Date
11 December 2017
By speaking about ranking of web-sources, Google's Eric Schmidt was only referring to the firm's ongoing efforts to improve search quality, the company says. Photo: Bloomberg
By speaking about ranking of web-sources, Google's Eric Schmidt was only referring to the firm's ongoing efforts to improve search quality, the company says. Photo: Bloomberg

Google clarifies with Russia amid row over website rankings

Google does not change its search algorithm to re-rank individual websites, the internet giant said in a letter to Russia’s communications watchdog, amid a row over website rankings.

Responding to concerns from Moscow that the Google search engine might be discriminating against Russian media, the US tech firm sought to assure that it is not the case, Reuters reports.

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

Asked about Sputnik articles at a conference earlier in November, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent Alphabet Inc, 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 last 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, Dr. Eric Schmidt was referring to Google’s ongoing efforts to improve search quality,” Google said in a letter posted on Roskomnadzor’s website on Monday.

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

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.

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RC

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