Google plans to ‘de-rank’ articles by popular Russian new sites

It seems like Google is planning to start a crackdown against Russian news media publishing websites like RT and Sputnik. Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has announced recently that the company will “engineer” algorithms that will make it harder for articles of these websites to appear on the Google News service.

Schmidt recently appeared in a Q & A session at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada to discuss the company’s popular Google News service platform. Google News service gathers the news from stories, then ranks the various media outlets depending on their reach, the length of the article and authenticity. The participants of the meeting also talked about Google Alerts, which proactively informs subscribers of new publications.

When a person from the audience asked about whether Google facilitates “Russian propaganda”, Schmidt replied,

“We are working on detecting and de-ranking those kinds of sites – it’s basically RT and Sputnik. We are well of aware of it, and we are trying to engineer the systems to prevent the content being delivered to wide audiences. But we don’t want to ban the sites – that’s not how we operate.”

During the discussion, Schmidt also claimed that he is strongly against censorship. He believes in ranking without acknowledging if the system might serve the same function. Schmidt, who joined Google in 2001, said that the company’s algorithm was capable of detecting repetitive, exploitative, false, and weaponized news info. But he didn’t elaborate that how these qualities were determined.

The tech giants like Facebook and Google have already been criticized due to their support for Russian propaganda in US elections. The freedom of speech must prevail and to prevent authentic news platforms by hiding them from news feed appears to be a biased move. Google these days seems to be very vigorous in its actions like removing UC browser app from play store and warning another app for its stealthy behavior.

 

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