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Microsoft investigates reports that it sold Bing ads to Russia

Photo via Casimiro PT/Shutterstock (Licensed)

The software giant hasn’t confirmed any findings.

Microsoft is launching an internal investigation into whether it sold ads to Russian internet trolls during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Its decision to look into matters comes as other tech giants—Facebook and Twitter—reportedly prepare to appear before U.S. lawmakers to testify as part of a probe into Russian interference during the election. Microsoft says it received multiple reports that indicate it may have sold Bing ads to Russia but has yet to confirm any findings.

“We take reports of misuse of our platform seriously,” a Microsoft spokesman told Reuters. “We are therefore investigating, and if inappropriate activity is found, we will take steps to minimize such misuse in the future.”

In early September, Facebook admitted to selling more than $100,000 in ads to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company with links to the Kremlin. Using 470 fake accounts, Russian trolls acted as Americans advocating on a number of controversial topics, like gun rights and immigration. Under growing pressure from lawmakers and the public, Facebook agreed to turn over all 3,000 ads to congressional committees. It later disclosed that 10 million users had seen the Russia-linked ads and that 5 percent were posted to Instagram.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that people familiar with the matter claim Russia exploited Google’s platforms in an attempt to interfere with the election. They are said to have spent tens of thousands of dollars on Google’s ad network using many of its products, including YouTube, search, and Gmail. The search giant was also invited to testify before Congress on Nov. 1 but has not yet said whether it has accepted the invitation.

Twitter has also been called out for allowing bots to disseminate misinformation through its site. After meeting with Congress, the social platform publicly released a report titled “Russian Interference in 2016 US Election, Bots, & Misinformation,” that states 22 of the “450 or so” Russian Facebook accounts also had a corresponding Twitter account. In late September, Twitter announced that it had suspended more than 200 accounts it believes were linked to Russian actors.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine accounts for 23 percent of online searches in the U.S.

H/T Raw Story

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is a former technology staff writer at the Daily Dot. He's an expert on smartphones, social media trends, and gadgets. He previously reported on IoT and telecom for RCR Wireless News and contributed to NewBay Media magazine. He now writes for Laptop magazine.