Google Has Reportedly Found Russia-Linked Ads on YouTube and Gmail

The Washington Post says Russian accounts spent 'tens of thousands'

Like Facebook and Twitter, Google has now reportedly found evidence of Russian-linked ad buys. - Credit by Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Google has reportedly uncovered evidence that “tens of thousands” of dollars in misleading political ads were bought by Russia-linked accounts across YouTube, Gmail and Search, according to a report today from The Washington Post.

According to the report, which cites anonymous sources, Google still isn’t sure whether the ads were bought by trolls or other operatives. However, the spending so far seems to be below $100,000. The news comes weeks after Facebook and Twitter revealed evidence of accounts in Russia buying ads on both of their platforms as a means of spreading misinformation about hot-button topics surrounding the U.S. presidential election.

According to The Washington Post, the accounts found on Google properties don’t seem to be the same as those used to buy ads on Facebook.

When asked for comment, Google did not confirm the reports. However, a company spokesperson told Adweek via email that it has “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 spokesperson said.

During a publishers summit in Chicago last week, Scott Spencer, Google’s director of publisher management, declined to comment on whether Google plans to follow Facebook’s lead in requiring more documentation from political ad buyers.

“I don’t have anything on that right now,” he said.

Facebook and Twitter executives have already met with members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian activity on their platforms. However, they will testify in a more formal manner on Nov. 1. There is no word yet on whether Google will join them on Capitol Hill.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.