It’s not the first time Google has announced taking action against Russian owned media sites, tech giants including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube has been under constant pressure from the US civil society and legislative elite because of their involvement in allegedly tweaking and tarnishing the 2016 US presidential elections.
However, tech companies were not involved in directly manipulating the public opinion and affect the presidential elections but their platforms such as; Facebook ads, Google Ads, YouTube Ads and advertisement of Twitter was heavily used to serve the purpose of Russian agents.
After being questioned by US investigative authorities, the tech giants including Google has been making the policies that are focused on curbing fake news and disinformation that could be used as propaganda against anyone, previously Google has taken steps to investigate Russian agencies involvement in buying social media ads due to the pressure coming from the Congress.
Not only Google, Facebook and Twitter also revealed millions of dollars invested in ads before the US election that were directly or indirectly related to Russian agencies.
Additionally, Facebook has revealed that governments in no less than 30 countries are creating content to distort the digital landscape. Russian appearance is once again prominent in these stories.
Google is now preparing to devalue and drop ranking of Russian news sources Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., says the problem is largely down to Russia Today and Sputnik, and that the company is “trying to engineer the systems to prevent it”. Speaking at an event in Halifax, Canada, he said that Russia’s disinformation strategy should prove easy to tackle as it hinges on “amplification around a message”, and that such patterns can be detected and therefore “taken down or deprioritized”.
The CEO said we are not in favor of simply banning the sites nor we want censorship in place, we simply work with algorithms and ranking, that’s what we do.
Chief Editor of Russia Today (RT) responded to the Schmidt’s comments and said, Google’s internal system did not find anything wrong with RT’s content, and hence putting extra layers to drop ranking of the news sites is a form of censorship itself. The solution proposed to combat fake news by Schmidt is overly simplifying of a complex issue.