Google has found evidence that Russian operatives have bought ads on YouTube, Google and Gmail as part of their campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, according to a new report from the Washington Post. The ads under investigation cost tens of thousands of dollars, the report states. Separately, Russia also seems to have hired YouTubers to record videos railing against Hillary Clinton and her campaign.
Google declined to comment directly on those findings Monday, but provided Variety with the following statement:
“We have a set of strict ads policies including limits on political ad targeting and prohibitions on targeting based on race and religion. We are taking a deeper look to investigate attempts to abuse our systems, working with researchers and other companies, and will provide assistance to ongoing inquiries.”
The revelation comes after both Facebook and Twitter have publicly released preliminary results of their own internal investigations into Russian online campaigns.
In fact, some of the findings now surfacing seem to be directly related to Facebook’s initial investigation. The social network shared information about groups and accounts spreading misinformation on behalf of Russia with others in the industry, which led Twitter to investigate the same groups and associated accounts.
In addition to the ads now scrutinized by Google, there’s also evidence that some of the same accounts that surfaced during Facebook’s and Twitter’s investigations were also connected to YouTubers who aimed to influence the election on behalf of Russia.
The Daily Beast reported Sunday that a pair of YouTubers calling themselves ‘Williams & Kalvin’ recorded videos disparaging Hillary Clinton as racist, and encouraging viewers to vote for Donald Trump instead. The duo also tried to connect their message to the Black Lives Matter movement. Google disabled Williams & Kalvin’s YouTube account after the report’s publication.