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Google plans to censor Russian government-funded news sites, exec says

By Ray Downs
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, speaks during an event in Tokyo on November 4, 2014. On Saturday, Schmidt said Google is working to censor Russian government-funded news sites. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/6f571848e24a13ccfc18592201fd6436/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, speaks during an event in Tokyo on November 4, 2014. On Saturday, Schmidt said Google is working to censor Russian government-funded news sites. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Executive Chairman of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, said the search engine giant will make news articles from Russian-funded news sites difficult to find on its platform.

At the Halifax International Security Forum on Saturday, Eric Schmidt was asked why Google monetizes Russian government-funded news sites, which advertise on Google's AdSense platform, despite criticism that the sites are propaganda outlets of the Russian government.

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We are working on detecting and de-ranking those kinds of sites -- it's basically RT and Sputnik," Schmidt said, referring to two news sites U.S. officials have blamed for interfering in the 2016 presidential election by publishing information critical of the U.S. government, including hacked emails obtained by Wikileaks.

But the Google chairman stopped short of saying his company would completely remove the news sites.

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"We are well of aware of it, and we are trying to engineer the systems to prevent that [the sites be exposed to large audiences]. But we don't want to ban the sites - that's not how we operate," Schmidt added.

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RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan blasted Schmidt's comments Monday.

"Good to have Google on record as defying all logic and reason: facts aren't allowed if they come from RT, 'because Russia' - even if we have Google on Congressional record saying they've found no manipulation of their platform or policy violations by RT," Simonyan said.

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Since U.S. officials blamed RT and Sputnik for having a role in Hillary Clinton's loss to Donald Trump in 2016, the news sites have faced opposition.

In October, Twitter said it will ban advertising from both sites.

And last week, both sites were required to register as foreign agents in the United States.

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