Google has confirmed that they have found tens of thousands of dollars in advertising purchased by Russian operatives as part of a misinformation campaign aimed at the last election. It continues a trend first found on Facebook, where similar ads had been placed in an attempt to fan instability and strife between groups in the US.
Mysterious Russian Operatives
The Facebook ads had previously been linked to a specific agency that has in the past been used for pro-Kremlin propaganda, a company called The Internet Research Agency. When rumors began circulating that other platforms might be affected, many believed the other ads would be linked back to the same.
However, that is not the case. Speaking anonymously, sources inside Google have told various news networks that the ads were linked to yet another advertising company out of Russia.
This is a significant finding, as it shows that these efforts could have been much more wide spread than anyone originally anticipated.
Troll farm and Russian agent run ads and groups has become a greater concern as the scope of the problem becomes more clear. Facebook has already provided thousands of pieces of evidence to Congress showing the interference. But with new platforms now discovering the same, it is clear that this was a highly organized, orchestrated plot to destabilize an already unstable environment, during a deeply unsettling election year.
Among the groups and ads were pro and anti LGBT groups, White Power groups, Black Lives Matter groups, NRA and gun control groups and many more. Each sought to incite greater anger among the population, both on and offline.
How this ties in to the election itself and the impact it had is hard to say without further information about the source and intentions behind the troll farms and accounts. Currently, Twitter and other platforms are attempting to make connections between now defunct accounts from the Internet Research Agency and official celebrity accounts.
Among those being investigated is that of President Donald Trump, currently facing an investigation for possible Russian influence in his campaign. Investigators have already found that there was collusion from Vladimir Putin that had a hand in Trump’s win of the White House, though whether or not the president was aware of this interference has not yet been determined.
In the end, it is hard not to see the connection between these events. It is also hard to imagine that there was no knowledge on behalf of Trump or any of his campaign. Especially with allegations against his son in law, Jared Kushner’s meetins with Russian delegates and possible assistance to these troll farms.