Yandex says its experimental search results trashing Alexey Navalny were ‘a mistake’
The Russian Internet giant Yandex has acknowledged a flaw in an experimental feature being tested on its search engine that caused some users to see overwhelmingly negative content when seeking information about opposition politician Alexey Navalny. The company says the search results were designed to capture trending content and the beta widget has now been removed from its website.
In a press release on April 28, Yandex said its experimental widget draws on “news headlines, videos, and user comments in chronological order.” “Discussions on Yandex platforms are insufficient for some search terms, which led to even one comment reaching the search results page,” the company explained.
Calling the results a “product error,” Yandex says it’s removed the widget from its website for further development and will release more information later in the day to explain how the new “trends” feature malfunctioned.
On April 27, the website TJournal reported that Yandex searches for “Навальный” (Navalny) displayed supposedly trending stories about “how Navalny’s bots boosted views for [Lyubov] Sobol on Ekho Moskvy,” “how Navalny’s illiteracy could crash Russia’s economy,” and similar negative reports.