A new report issued by Google reveals that RT News did not manipulate YouTube during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. However, Google did say that the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) did have two Google accounts and spent a total of $4,700 during the election cycle to buy search and display ads from Google. Those ads didn't narrowly target certain users.
With regards to RT on YouTube, Google wrote:
“Some have raised questions about the use of YouTube by RT, a media service funded by the Russian government. Our investigation found no evidence of manipulation of our platform or policy violations; RT - and all other state-sponsored media outlets - remains subject to our standard rules.”
The report comes just days after Twitter banned RT and Sputnik from advertising on their platforms; RT hit back at tTwitter saying:
“Here are the facts:
- RT never violated any rules while advertising on Twitter.
- RT has never dealt with, and will never deal with, bots or any other compromised tools on any social media platform.
- RT has never spread any sort of deliberate misinformation. If we had, RT would have been banned by any social media platform in question, as all of them have strict rules regarding policy violations.
- RT always has been, is, and will be a reliable partner and publisher on global social media networks which provide opportunities for all media to reach new and diverse audiences.”
RT also claims that it and Twitter had teams in direct negotiations to brainstorm potential media strategies ahead of the elections and that Twitter urged RT to “spend big” during the campaign.
There was very little activity concerning Russia taking place on Google+ or AdSense. Google says it found no political posts in English from state-linked actors on Google+ but that there were some posts in Russian and a very small number of non-political posts. With regards to AdSense, Google found less than $35 in revenue from ads on associated sites.