Google seeks to defuse row with Russia over website rankings

Updated 27 November 2017
0

Google seeks to defuse row with Russia over website rankings

MOSCOW: 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 Inc’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 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.
“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 toward Hillary Clinton during the 2016 US presidential election.
— Reuters


Facebook to pay to train local newspaper reporters in UK

Updated 19 November 2018
0

Facebook to pay to train local newspaper reporters in UK

  • Facebook is donating 4.5 million pounds ($5.8 million) to train journalists in Britain
  • Around 80 new trainee reporters funded by Facebook will be recruited by several regional publishers

LONDON: Facebook is donating 4.5 million pounds ($5.8 million) to train journalists in Britain to support communities that have lost local newspapers and reporters, in no little part due to ad revenue and readers switching online to the social media giant.
The US company said on Monday it recognized the role it played in how people got their news today and it wanted to do more to support local publishers.
Around 80 new trainee reporters funded by Facebook will be recruited by regional publishers Newsquest, JPIMedia, Reach , Archant and the Midland News Association, in a scheme overseen by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ), Facebook said.
The pressure facing print publishers was laid bare on Friday when Britain’s Johnston Press filed for administration and agreed to be bought by its bondholders after it concluded its equity had no value.
Facebook said the two-year pilot — a global first for the platform — did not signal any move to start producing its own news content.