Google planning to 'de-rank' Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik

The editor of the two outlets said the tech company is "defying all logic and reason"

Google planning to 'de-rank' Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik

Picture by: Jaap Arriens/SIPA USA/PA Images

Google has indicated it is working to 'de-rank' Russian state-run media outlets such as Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik.

Eric Schmidt - executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company - was speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada.

During the discussion, he was asked about the issue of Russian "propaganda outlets" being monetised through Google's 'AdSense' programme, and the sites' content being ranked highly on the search engine.

He responded: "We're well aware of this one, and we're working on detecting this kind of scenario you're describing and de-ranking those kinds of sites.

"It's basically RT and Sputnik... We're well aware of it, we're trying to engineer the systems to prevent it. We don't want to ban the sites - that's not how we operate it."

Mr Schmidt had earlier spoken about lowering the rank of information "that was repetitive, exploitative, false, likely to have been weaponised".

He added: "I am strongly not in favour of censorship - I am very strongly in favour of ranking."

Responding to the comments, Sputnik and RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said in a statement: Good to have Google on record as defying all logic and reason: facts aren’t allowed if they come from RT, ‘because Russia’ – even if we have Google on Congressional record saying they've found no manipulation of their platform or policy violations by RT."

Twitter last month announced that it will ban ads from the two Russian news organisations.

The decision to 'off-board' advertisements from the state-controlled outlets comes in the wake of alleged Russian efforts to interfere in last year's US presidential election.

Both outlets were named in a report by US intelligence agencies on the alleged interference.

The report claimed: "State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton."