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Photo: AP file

Google sold "tens of thousands" of dollars worth ads to Russian agents across several of its platforms, including Google search, Gmail, and the company's DoubleClick ad network, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Why it matters: We knew that this type of behavior wouldn't be exclusive to Facebook, and that the Russian-bought Facebook and Twitter ads would be the beginning of more to come.

That's because Google, like Facebook and Twitter, uses a self-serve ad platform that allows anyone to buy ads through an automated system that's not always reviewed by a human before they go live.

The report says that the ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated group that bought ads on Facebook, which means that the scope of Russian influence in the campaign is likely bigger than what we already know. People familiar with Google's investigation tell the Post that Google discovered the Russian ad buys on its platforms by siphoning data from Twitter.

In response to the Russian ads revelation, Facebook is telling advertisers more types of advocacy ads, ones targeted to people based on politics, religion, etc., will now be reviewed by humans before going live, which may delay the ad-buying process for some marketers. Google did not immediately return a request for comment regarding the report.

For context, Google puts out a bad ads report annually. In 2016, it says it took down 1.7 billion ads that violated its policies. Most of these ads were spammy, click-bait schemes to get users to buy crappy products, but the company also said that it reviewed 550 sites in November and December that they thought pushed deceptive content, including mimicking news organizations to look authoritative and real — 340 were punished, and 200 permanently banned.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
53 mins ago - Economy & Business

Peloton's wild ride and possible buyers

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Peloton is having a bumpy ride, and has become a source of fascination among even those who've never invested or clipped in.

Driving the news: On Monday, a hedge fund with less than a 5% stake in Peloton called for CEO John Foley to be fired and for the connected fitness company to consider seeking a strategic buyer. Shares gained nearly 10% on the news, but remained down 16.2% for the year and off 80% their December 2020 peak.

Scoop: Republicans probe NBC over Beijing Olympics coverage

Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFP via Getty Images

Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have sent a letter to NBC Universal executives voicing concerns about "the extent of influence the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) may have over NBCUniversal’s coverage of the games."

Why it matters: The human rights abuses committed by the CCP have been the subject of intense scrutiny ahead of this year's Winter Games in Beijing. Activists last year sent a letter to NBC executives urging the network to cancel plans to cover the Olympics.

Scoop: Trump's new social network quietly courting influencers

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Former President Trump’s elusive new social media network Truth Social — which plans to go public — is reaching out to internet influencers asking them to “reserve their spots” for when it launches in February or March.

Why it matters: The outreach doesn’t mention Trump’s name or affiliation. Some influencers suggest that could be a ploy to enlist their support without realizing the affiliation.