Google Deepens Probe Of Russian Meddling In U.S. Election Amid Congressional Pressure

Alphabet Inc’s Google is conducting a broader internal investigation to determine whether Russian-linked entities used its ads or other services to try to manipulate U.S. voters last year, a person familiar with the probe told The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook Inc. FB, >-0.05%   and Twitter Inc. TWTR, >-1.42%   have both already disclosed political ad spending by accounts affiliated with Russia.

Late Friday, the company GOOGL, >+0.17%   confirmed to the Journal, the Associated Press and other outlets that it is cooperating with congressional inquiries. Earlier this month, the company claimed it found no evidence that it sold election-related ads to Russian entities. The latest development would imply it has deepened its investigation. Lawmakers have expressed frustration with the response from social media platforms, at least initially, to its probe into evidence of Russian meddling.

Google runs the world’s largest advertising business and largest online-video site, YouTube, with more than 1.5 billion monthly users, compared to Facebook’s 2 billion and Twitter’s 328 million. Google does promote an ad tool for political campaigns that it says will help advertisers “win the moments that win elections.”

Facebook said earlier this month that Russian entities paid $150,000 to run 5,200 divisive ads on its platform during the campaign. It identified roughly 450 Russian-linked accounts as having purchased ads.

Read: Mark Zuckerberg admits he underestimated impact of fake news on Facebook

Twitter disclosed Thursday that it found 201 accounts on its service linked to the Russian actors identified by Facebook.

Twitter said the Russian-backed news site RT, which a U.S. intelligence report said aimed to meddle in the election, bought $274,100 of ads on Twitter last year. That compared with $152,000 that Facebook said Russian actors spent on its site.

Twitter told congressional investigators in a closed door meeting Friday it had suspended at least two dozen accounts that may have been tied to Russia. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, told reporters the response was inadequate and had mostly relied on data from Facebook, the AP reported.

Google hasn’t yet said whether it would accept an invitation this week from the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify publicly on Nov. 1 about Russian interference. The committee also invited Facebook and Twitter.

Google shares finished Friday trading up 0.9%, while Twitter rose 0.1% and Facebook advanced nearly 1.3%.

Source : http://www.marketwatch.com/story/google-deepens-probe-of-russian-meddling-in-us-election-amid-congressional-pressure-2017-09-30

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