Espreso. Global

Google's Discover service accused of spreading pro-Putin content 

12 October, 2023 Thursday
18:58

Bloomberg reports that Russian Android users are still exposed to deceptive information through Google's Discover feed service, content that Google has restricted in other regions

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Bloomberg writes about it.

In Russia, mobile users are encountering war-related propaganda from sources that Google has blocked elsewhere. This content appears through a service that presents content on the Chrome browser for Android devices. Pro-Kremlin media, including Komsomolskaya Pravda, are also frequently seen on Discover.

In September, Google registered around 200,000 daily visits to the media outlet Tsargrad, which is owned by Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeev, a figure under US and EU sanctions for his involvement in Ukraine-related violence.

Google claims it has been effectively countering Russian information operations aimed at supporting the war. In 2022, Google shut down 1,950 cases of Russian information operations on its platforms.

Although Google News is blocked in Russia, Alphabet Inc.'s other services, such as YouTube and Google Search, continue to operate. Android is the operating system for over 80% of mobile devices in Russia, and the Discover feature often features pro-Kremlin content.

It's worth noting that, even though Discover is marketed as a search tool rather than a news platform, many users perceive its recommendations, particularly when using Chrome on mobile devices, as a news feed. The misuse of Discover in Russia is regarded as an internal issue.

Given that Discover generates significantly less revenue than Google Search, it has a smaller budget for combating misuse, according to sources.

  • In a prior development, Google was fined 3 million rubles by a Moscow court on May 11 for not removing content allegedly containing inaccurate information about the ‘conflict in Ukraine’.






 
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