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Google Discover reportedly ditches two Russian propaganda outlets, but others remain
In October 2023, Bloomberg reported that Google “continues to serve up misleading propaganda to Russian audiences” despite the company’s claims that it’s working to disrupt Kremlin disinformation. Journalists singled out two tabloids that benefited from this traffic: Komsomolskaya Pravda and Tsargrad. Both outlets now seem to be largely cut off from Google Discover, according to a new report by the independent news outlet Agentstvo.
Data published by the website rating service LiveInternet show that traffic to Komsomolskaya Pravda and Tsargrad from Google Discover (a curated feed that delivers news articles and videos to mobile Chrome browser users) has plummeted from millions of views to mere thousands. As a result, Komsomolskaya Pravda’s LiveInternet ranking among news media fell from first to fifth place. On the other hand, despite losing more than 2 million clicks from Google Discover, Tsargrad managed to raise its overall traffic and climb from fifth place to fourth place, thanks to traffic from the Zen personal recommendations service (created by Yandex and recently sold to VK).
According to Agentstvo, Google Discover is still sending large numbers of readers to pro-Kremlin propaganda outlets, including the tabloid Life.ru, which relies on Google’s curated feed for most of its traffic.
It’s not clear how much independent Russian-language news outlets benefit from Google Discover, as LiveInternet doesn’t index the foreign free press, though former Yandex News director Lev Gershenzon speculated in mid-October that Chrome’s curated feed is likely sending ten times more traffic to propaganda websites than Russia’s independent media.
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