Google News Says Goodbye to Russian Propaganda

January 23, 2018

The United States is still reeling from possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.  Every other day has some headline associated with the Trump Administration’s ties with the great bear, but what they still remain unclear.  However, one cold, hard fact is that Russia did influence online news outlets and media companies are taking steps to guarantee it does not happen again.  Motherboard reports that “Eric Schmidt Says Google News Will ‘Engineer’ Russian Propaganda Out Of News Feed.”

Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has faced criticism that Google News still displays Russian Web sites in news feeds.  In response, Schmidt responded that his company is well aware of the problem and have a plan to ferret out Russian propaganda. The top two Russian news outlets that are featured in Google News are Sputnik and RT.  Both Sputnik and RT are owned by the Russian government and have ceaselessly argued their legitimacy.  Their “legitimacy” allows them to benefit from Google AdSense.

Despite the false legitimacy, Schmidt said Alphabet is aware of Russia’s plans to influence western politics:

Schmidt said the Russian strategy is fairly transparent, and usually involves ‘amplification around a message.’ That information can be “repetitive, exploitative, false, [or] likely to have been weaponized,’ he said.  ‘My own view is that these patterns can be detected, and that they can be taken down or deprioritized.’

The problem is that Alphabet has not really outlined their plans to deter Russian influence.  Russian propaganda in the news bears some similarities to the Watergate Scandal during the Nixon Administration.  We have yet to see the long-term aftermath, but it peeks our curiosity about how it will affect the United States in years to come.

Whitney Grace, January 23, 2018

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