15:49 GMT04 August 2020
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    Last week, Eric Schmidt, the head of Alphabet holding company, which includes Google, announced its intention to de-rank RT and Sputnik in the issuance of news.

    OSCOW (Sputnik) Google does not plan to change algorithms to re-rank individual websites in its search results, Google Vice President Nicklas Lundblad said, responding to a request by Russian communications watchdog Roskomnadzor.

    "We’d like to inform you that by speaking about the ranking of web-sources, including the websites of Russia Today [RT] and Sputnik, Dr. Eric Schmidt was referring to Google's ongoing efforts to improve search quality. We don’t change our algorithm to re-rank individual websites. We remain committed to our mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible," Lundblad said in a written reply published on Roskomnadzor’s website.

    READ MORE: Fake or Not Fake? Google Out to Determine What News is Real – Expert

    Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor will be monitoring changes in search results showing pieces of news from Russian media after Google explained that it was not going to de-rank articles from RT or Sputnik, Roskomnadzor's head Vadim Subbotin said Monday.

    Under-prioritized listing of RT and Sputnik may prompt Russia to bring up the issues related to the prohibited content in Google search results which the company allegedly cannot influence, Russian Telecom and Mass Communication Deputy Minister Alexey Volin told Sputnik Monday.

    "If they have prioritized or under-prioritized listing of RT and Sputnik news, it will mean that they [Google] deny the principles of technological neutrality. And we will have many question to them regarding copyright, drugs, pornography and a whole range of issues that we had not brought up yet," Volin said.

    He explained that the ministry had previously requested Google to remove the illegal content from its search results.

    "When we asked Google alongside with other search systems to remove piracy content, to prevent showing child pornography and things related to drugs, they [Google] told us that they observed the principle of technological neutrality. And this [the principle] did not allow them even to impact the content somehow," Volin said.

    When asked about possible retaliatory measures, the official noted that "we never make preliminary announcements how we are going to surprise those who offend our media."

    Earlier in November, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google's parent company, Alphabet, said that Google was engineering algorithms to "detect and de-rank" content from websites disseminating alleged Russian propaganda, such as RT and Sputnik, in Google News search results. Alexander Zharov, the head of Russia's Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), said that the agency would send an official request to Google regarding its intention to rank RT and Sputnik, asking to explain what exactly the company means by the term.

    RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan stressed that such actions would mean that Google is introducing censorship.

    In October, due to the investigation of "Russian interference," Twitter blocked advertising from the channels owned by RT and Sputnik. At the same time, Twitter, Facebook and Google confirmed the lack of evidence of Moscow's interference in the US elections before congress.

    Earlier, RT America was forced to register as a foreign agent, otherwise they could not continue their work in US.


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    Sputnik, Google, RT, Roskomnadzor, Russia
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