Monday, 16 October, 2017

Google uncovers Russia-backed ads used to meddle in 2016 US election

Screen Shot 2017 10 05 15 Russian Facebook Advertisements Revealed to Public
Sherri Watson | 11 October, 2017, 03:07

Google did this by downloading historical data that Twitter makes available to developers, according to the Post's sources. In September, the social network said it found $100,000 worth of spending on divisive political ads on its platform by hundreds of Russian-linked fake accounts and pages during a period that included the 2016 presidential election.

The role that Silicon Valley technology giants may have unwittingly played during last year's election is still being uncovered.

Recently, Facebook has done some changes in its advertising programs, adding strict rules in choosing ads destination and other information, especially related to politics and religion.

On Friday, #Elliot Schrage, the vice president of Facebook's policy and communication, revealed that about $6,700 was spent on 5% ads purchased from Russian fake accounts on Instagram.

USA intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin directed a disinformation campaign aimed at helping Donald Trump win the presidential election. A Google spokeswoman commented, "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".

Google runs the world's largest online advertising business and its revelation increased fears that United States tech companies may have unwittingly played a role in the election of Donald Trump.

Facebook, which has not yet made such an assessment, said in a statement that it uses models to estimate the number of people who have seen at least one of the 3000 ads.

"We take reports of misuse of our platform seriously..." Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) sent letters Facebook and Twitter last week, urging the companies to turn over ads bought by Kremlin linked actors to the CBC. They posed as Black Lives Matter sympathizers who were sharply critical of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The search engine giant has a hearing in front of Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1, 2017.

Facebook and Twitter, whose officials were also invited, have confirmed they will attend but Google has not responded.