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Google reportedly probing possible Russian meddling in election

The search giant joins rivals Facebook and Twitter under the microscope.

Google is reportedly conducting a probe over potential Russian interference in the 2016 US election.
Claudia Cruz/CNET

Google is examining what role its services could have played in Russian interference during the 2016 US presidential election, according to a report published Friday by The Wall Street Journal.

The search giant joins its rivals Facebook and Twitter in their own probes, as they try to figure out how Russian agents could have misused their advertising platforms, among other services, to meddle in the campaign.

"We will of course cooperate with inquiries," a Google spokesperson said. "We're looking into how we can help with any relevant information."

Silicon Valley tech giants have been under the microscope as federal investigators delve into what happened.

Google, along with Facebook and Twitter, has reportedly been invited to testify on a Senate Intelligence Committee panel on Nov. 1 examining how foreign actors may have used social media to interfere with the election. Google hasn't said specifically whether it will accept the invitation.

Earlier this month, Facebook disclosed that during the election, it sold $100,000 worth of ads to inauthentic accounts likely linked to Russia. It also said it's working with investigators such as Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team to examine alleged Russian meddling in the presidential race. Last week, Facebook said it's handing over 3,000 Russia-linked ads to the Senate and House intelligence committees as investigators dig into what happened.

Twitter on Thursday said it found 201 accounts that appear to be tied to the same Russian accounts that purchased ads on Facebook that may have influenced the election. Twitter shared its findings with congressional investigators during a closed-door meeting that day.

But after Twitter gave its report, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, a top Democrat on the committee, lambasted Twitter's work as "inadequate."

"The presentation that the Twitter team made to the Senate intel staff today was deeply disappointing," he said.

It's unclear what shape Google's own probe will take, but according to the Journal's report, it will be a "broad internal investigation." In addition to Google's search engine, which is the world's largest online advertising business, the company also owns YouTube, the world's largest online video site. 

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