DuckDuckGo to Down-Rank Sites With Russia Association

DuckDuckGo Down-Rank Sites Russia

DuckDuckGo to Down-Rank Sites With Russia Association

DuckDuckGo is going to down-rank sites associated with “Russia disinformation” in response to the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine, but some critics say the change amounts to censorship.

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DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg announced the down-ranking on Twitter. “Like so many others I am sickened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the gigantic humanitarian crisis it continues to create,” he wrote in the tweet, which included the hashtag StandWithUkraine. 

“At DuckDuckGo, we’ve been rolling out search updates that down-rank sites associated with Russian disinformation,” he added. 

Weinberg didn’t elaborate on the decision, or how the down-ranking will work. But his tweet comes more than a week after the European Union announced it would ban the “Kremlin’s media machine” for spreading propaganda justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

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Since then, the internet industry has responded by blocking access to Russian state-sponsored media outlets such as RT and Sputnik News for users in the EU. In addition, Twitter has placed warning labels on tweets linking to Russian state media. (Google News decided to de-rank RT and Sputnik News back in 2017 for allegedly circulating propaganda.)

Still, not everyone is a fan of DuckDuckGo’s decision. On Twitter, some users equated the down-ranking to censorship. Others referenced DuckDuckGo’s commitment to “unbiased search.”

“So you are censoring your users? DDG now decides what is or isn’t misinformation? This decision should be left to the user,” wrote one user. 

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“​​You’ve got that magic ‘disinformation finder’ eh?” wrote another user. “You’re just sure you’re going to only downrank things that are wrong?”

DuckDuckGo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But on Twitter, Weinberg was quick to defend the decision, saying it was necessary to provide relevant search results over disinformation.

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Dean Nestor

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