DuckDuckGo is downgrading sites that would be associated with Russian disinformation

DuckDuckGo CEO Gabriel Weinberg announced the on Twitter that DuckDuckGo is now downgrading sites believed to be associated with Russian disinformation in response to the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, but some critics say the change amounts to censorship.

Vineyard did not provide further details on this decision or how downgrading search engine sites will work, but his tweet comes more than a week after the European Union announced it was attacking the "Kremlin media machine" for spreading propaganda justifying Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Like so many others, I am disgusted by the Russian 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 have implemented search updates that downgrade sites associated with Russian disinformation”

Since then, the internet industry has responded by blocking access to Russian state-sponsored media, such as RT and Sputnik News, for users in the EU. Additionally, Twitter placed warning labels on tweets related to Russian state media (note that Google News decided to block RT and Sputnik News in 2017 for allegedly circulating propaganda).

Having said that, DuckDuckGo's decision is far from unanimous, since on Twitter, some users compared the removal to censorship. Others referred to DuckDuckGo's commitment to "unbiased research."

You got this magical 'misinformation seeker' huh? Are you sure you only downgrade fake news? I am sure that it will be exactly so. And I'm sure you won't use it against anyone else in the future. MDR,” another user wrote.

On twitter, Weinberg was quick to defend the decision., saying that it was necessary to provide relevant search results instead of misinformation:

“DuckDuckGo's interest is privacy. The interest of the search engine is to show more relevant content instead of less relevant content, and that is what we continue to do”.

“Search engines, by definition, try to rank more relevant content higher and less relevant content lower. That's not censorship, it's search ranking relevance," Weinberg tweeted in response to one user. Another responded: "But it seems like YOU decide what's relevant and that's a problem."

On Twitter, DuckDuckGo software engineer Shane Osbourne also explained what the company is referring to when it talks about unbiased search results:

“Everyone gets the same results, the results are not based on what, if they relate to your personal information,” he said.

DuckDuckGo sent out the following statement regarding its decision to downgrade sites allegedly associated with Russian disinformation*:

“The main purpose of a search engine is to provide access to specific information. Disinformation sites that deliberately spread false information to intentionally mislead people are directly against this utility. Current examples are Russian state-sponsored media sites like RT and Sputnik.

It is important to note that downgrading is different from censoring. We simply use the fact that these sites are participating in active disinformation campaigns as a ranking signal that the content they produce is of lower quality, just as there are signals of spam sites and other lower quality content. In addition to this approach, for newsworthy topics, we also continue to highlight reliable media coverage and reliable “instant answers” ​​at the top of our search results, where they are seen and clicked on the most. We are also considering other types of interventions.”

Also It should be noted that another of the actions I took DuckDuckGoIs that has "paused" his association with russian search engine Yandex for the war in Ukraine.

Finally, if you are interested in knowing more about it, you can consult the details in the thread of the conversation on Twitter. this link.

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  1.   Lito said

    The worrying thing is that someone can decide what others can take as truth. I'm old enough to decide what I should take as truth and what not. Hiding a version of reality is plain and simple CENSORSHIP.

  2.   sergi said

    Welcome to 1984!!

    When I read George Orwell's work 20 years ago, I found it extremely paranoid… I never believed that the Ministry of Truth could not cause everyone to laugh… and it turns out that we already have it here…. my mother who awaits us.

  3.   Seba said

    Note that Firefox 98.0.1 removed Yandex and as search engines...

  4.   Hernán said

    Hugely disappointing what Duckduckgo does. Worst of all, he accuses Russian news sites of being "sponsored by the Russian state", as if the other media outlets are completely unsupported and independent.
    No one has the molopoly of truth, NO ONE.
    Shameful for a site that wanted to have the support of the Free Community.

  5.   Jerome said

    Russian disinformation? Define Russian disinformation. Perhaps all information that we need to spread? Go ahead that I am against any war, for whatever reasons. I consider that killing other human beings is the greatest failure of humans as a supposedly intelligent and rational species. The software must be free, unbiased and impartial to political problems. To resolve conflicts we have politicians, although some of them dedicate themselves to creating them for their own benefit and that of their friends. This Duckduckgo maneuver makes it clear to me that he is not as private and free as he says he is. Perhaps it is because their servers are in the USA and they owe obedience and submission. If they do it in this, no one guarantees me that they won't do it in the rest.

    Both this case of Duckduckgo and Mozilla eliminating search engines like Yandex have increased suspicions that they are not what they say they are. If they are so worried about wars, they should also sanction a country that in the last sixty years has dedicated itself to bombing sovereign countries, inventing weapons of mass destruction, to impoverishing countries whose governments are not to their liking, to sanctioning and drowning economies in countries of everyone… Yes, we all know the country I am referring to. Precisely to that country whose weapons factories, energy, gas and agricultural companies are making brutal profits from this war. What a coincidence right?

  6.   Random1 said

    I say goodbye to Duckduckgo, as other users have commented, we are too old to compare the “reliable” sources of information, all the media go home or in favor of someone; as if the western media did not saturate and distort the information according to the interest of some, the convenient censorship only puts them on the target of criticism and denotes a halo of totalitarianism disguised as democracy, which is becoming wider and more noticeable by the general public.

    Hello startpage.

  7.   Ed said

    What a great disappointment DuckDuckGo turned out to be, I have it as my main search engine believing that it was totally impartial and it turns out that it has been leaking information regarding Ukraine and Russia for a long time. I did the test doing the same searches on Brave and I got those results that my "trusted search engine" was hiding from me.
    Goodbye duckduckgo, I'm going with the competition