Google has become the latest Silicon Valley giant to concede that it has been used by Russia to spread disinformation in the US, following a similarly frank admission by Facebook and Twitter.
US officials have stated that they believe that all of these platforms have fallen victim to a concerted propaganda campaign orchestrated by the Kremlin which saw it funnel tens of thousands of dollars into the creation of ads designed to sow discord ahead of the US presidential elections.
In Google’s case this saw its YouTube and gmail services fall under the crosshairs of Russian agents, together with its eponymous search engine and DoubleClick ad network, according to reports from the Washington Post.
This contradicts an assessment by Google conducted as recently as last month which concluded that no nefarious activity had taken place.
Commenting on the latest revelations House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, said: “Committee We see the Russia presence on social media metastasizing. The extent of the Russian presence just continues to grow and grow, and I don’t think we yet have any kind of full understanding of just how expansive this presence may have been.”
Researchers believe that a double-pronged campaign of paid for and free posts helped Russia reach millions of America for a relatively modest outlay.
Google’s own research has identified $4,700 of search and display ads that it believes to be Russian-linked – on top of $53,000 worth of political content purchased via Russian internet providers.