Google appears to have walked back claims made by its parent company CEO, who essentially said the organization would downgrade Russian news sites like Sputnik and RT on its search platform.
The company is “working on detecting this kind of scenario … and deranking those kinds of sites,” Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Alphabet, said earlier in the month in response to a question about the placement of specific news agencies with strong ties to the Kremlin.
“It’s basically RT [Russia Today] and Sputnik. We’re well aware and we’re trying to engineer the systems to prevent it,” he continued, according to Motherboard.
Google does not alter search algorithms in order to re-prioritize positioning or demote certain websites, company officials said in a recent letter to Russia’s communications authority, Reuters reported Monday.
“We’d like to inform you that by speaking about ranking of web-sources, including the websites of Russia Today and Sputnik, Dr. Eric Schmidt was referring to Google’s ongoing efforts to improve search quality,” Google reportedly told Russian authorities.
The tech company statement is a response to Russia’s appeal for clarification.
“We will receive an answer and understand what to do next,” Alexander Zharov, head of media regulator Roskomnadzor, said after hearing Schmidt’s comments, according to Reuters. “We hope our opinion will be heard, and we won’t have to resort to more serious” retaliatory measures.
Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of RT, was frustrated as well.
“Good to have Google on record as defying all logic and reason: facts aren’t allowed if they come from RT, ‘because Russia’ – even if we have Google on Congressional record saying they’ve found no manipulation of their platform or policy violations by RT,” she said in a statement provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
A Google representative told TheDCNF at the time that Schmidt’s comments were merely referring to an initiative publicly announced in April, which doesn’t reference any specific news agencies, including the two respective aforementioned ones.
Schmidt’s statement comes after months of clamoring from parts of the public, as well as public officials, that Russian operatives tried to influence the 2016 election by cultivating an even stronger divisive political climate in America. To what degree this affected the election outcome is dubious. Nevertheless, Schmidt was (and likely still is) an avid fan of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the party itself. (RELATED: Google Higher-Ups Love Donating To Democrats, Not Republicans)
He’s also a fairly outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.
The remarks also come less than a month after Twitter ended its business relationship with the two Russian firms by no longer allowing the companies to market on the platform. Not long after, a BuzzFeed News report alleged that Twitter actually pushed RT to spend more money on ads in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Google, this time, has not responded to TheDCNF’s inquiry for further details by time of publication.
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