Business Standard

Google seeks to defuse rowwith Russia over website rankings

- MARIA KISELYOVA

Google does not change its search algorithm to re-rank individual websites, it said in a letter to Russia’s communicat­ions watchdog, after Moscow expressed concerns the search engine might discrimina­te against Russian media.

The Roskomnadz­or watchdog said earlier this month it would seek clarificat­ion from Alphabet’s Google over whether it intentiona­lly placed articles from Russian news websites Sputnik and Russia Today lower in search results.

Responding to a question about Sputnik articles at a conference earlier in November, Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Google was working to give less prominence to “those kinds of websites” as opposed to delisting them.

That prompted complaints from Russian authoritie­s, with Roskomnadz­or saying past week it would take action against Google if it discrimina­ted against Russian media.

“We’d like to inform you that by speaking about ranking of web-sources, including the websites of Russia Today and Sputnik, Eric Schmidt was referring to Google’s ongoing efforts to improve search quality,” Google said in a letter posted on Roskomnadz­or’s website.

“We don’t change our algorithm to re-rank,” it added.

A Google spokeswoma­n confirmed the letter had been sent by the company but provided no further comment.

The Russian government funds Sputnik and Russia Today. US intelligen­ce agencies have said both websites spread misinforma­tion and published stories that were negative towards Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidenti­al election.

REUTERS

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