Sputnik: Do you think that after this announcement that RT and Sputnik will be de-ranked more broadcasters will follow suit in terms of being de-ranked?
Marie Haynes: The problem is not something you can specifically fight against. It’s not like giving out penalties to de-rank a site when you can say, “Oh yes, I know I’ve been de-ranked.“ We have seen case after case of not only news sites, but other websites, which have performed well and then, all of a sudden, they take a big hit. Every publisher, whether it’s news or anything, needs to be concentrated on how to make a high-quality product that is spreading the truth.
Sputnik: Do you think there is any way to avoid this de-ranking system?
Sputnik: The chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet — Eric Schmidt — earlier said that he doesn’t favor censorship and the de-ranking system…
Marie Haynes: I can’t speak for him, but I think what he’s trying to say is that Google is not going to stand there and say, “This website and this website is bad, and the rest are good.” Instead, what they want to do is see what the majority believes. If [a website] has 10,000 quality readers and there are a few people who have issues with one particular outlet, that’s not going to cause it to be de-ranked. But if there is a very obvious issue with some continual distrust and things that are just not real and coming out of a particular outlet, it’s going to feed back into the algorithm. I don’t believe that Google is going to say, “This news comes from one of these two sources; we are not going to publish it. Instead, they are going to algorithmically determine if this is something that we consider fake news, real news or authoritative."
Sputnik: There is no proof of the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election. What is behind Google’s motive for this action?
Marie Haynes: [There’ve been] stories in their Top News section that were very clearly not good news. They were picked up from some obscure thread from a social media site and presented as one of their top news stories. That doesn’t look good on Google. I think that, ultimately, their goal is for people to say, “Search for something on Google I can trust. I’m going to find something that is true and of good quality.”