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If I search (from an EU IP) seemingly for anything on Google with the site:rt.com restriction, I get no results, but funny pages like "476 results removed".

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Did Google announce removing RT from web searches? I do recall they announced removing it from YouTube. And I see now they've announced removing it from the news section too:

In a separate move, Google's parent company, Alphabet, confirmed to Reuters that it had removed RT and other state-funded outlets from its news-related features, including the Google News search tool.

But have they announced expanding the ban to basic web searches too?

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2 Answers 2

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When you click on the link below those search results, then you are forwarded to the legal basis for removing them. It tells you that rt.com and sputniknews.com were removed per request from the European Commission on March 4th.

There is also an article on the official Google blog from March 1st titled Helping Ukraine which says:

Promoting information quality

[...]

We have also significantly limited recommendations globally for a number of Russian state-funded media outlets across our platforms.

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  • 5
    I guess "significantly limited" is an euphemism for "totally". Mar 7, 2022 at 11:28
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    @Fizz Not necessarily. The blog article was from March 1st, the removal request from the EU was from March 4th. Added the dates to the answer.
    – Philipp
    Mar 7, 2022 at 11:33
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    Hm. What used to be sputnik URL? sputnik.com seems to be a satirical website, including headlines such as "Vladimir Putin announces engagement to Alexander Lukashenko" or "Vladimir Putin says he loves LGBTQI community, plans Moscow Mardi gras". Mar 7, 2022 at 15:01
  • @EricDuminil Sorry, that was a transcription mistake on my behalf which I just corrected.
    – Philipp
    Mar 7, 2022 at 15:15
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Yeah, they sent a letter to Google saying that searches are covered by the recent directive; after signing up to the annoying Lumen DB, you can read it:

From: <@ec.europa.eu> Date: Fri, Mar 4, 2022, 6:57 PM Subject: Ukraine Dear Signatories, I am sending you the below email on behalf of [redacted], in order to provide clarifications related to the sanctions, following up on questions received. Kind regards, [redacted] Disclaimer: please note that this is an informal position, which does not bind the Commission. Please also note that it is for national judges and ultimately for the European Court of Justice to rule on the interpretation of Union law. Internet search services In the Regulation the legislator intends to set out a very broad and comprehensive prohibition. Internet search services are provided by “operators” for the purposes of the Regulation. The Regulation prohibits both the broadcasting (which is a very broad concept in this Regulation) and the fact that operators “enable, facilitate or otherwise contribute to broadcast”. The Regulation refers in that regard to “including through transmission or distribution by any means such as cable, satellite, IP-TV, internet service providers, internet video-sharing platforms or applications.” Furthermore, the anti-circumvention clause laid down in the Regulation is worded in very broad terms. A broad construction of the prohibition laid down in the Regulation is also consistent with its objective, which is in particular to tackle the fact that RT and Sputnik have to date gravely distorted and manipulated facts and have repeatedly and consistently targeted European political parties, especially during election periods, as well as civil society, asylum seekers, Russian ethnic minorities, gender minorities, and the functioning of democratic institutions in the Union and its Member States (recital 6); the Russian Federation has engaged in continuous and concerted propaganda actions targeted at civil society in the Union and neighbouring countries, gravely distorting and manipulating facts (recital 7). Search engines such as Google are designed to index results containing any possible content; they index websites throughout the world; the information is indexed by their ‘web crawlers’ or robots, that is to say, computer programmes used to locate and sweep up the content of web pages methodically and automatically (see by analogy judgment of the ECJ in Google Spain, C‐131/12, para. 43). The activity of search engines plays a decisive role in the overall dissemination of content in that it renders the latter accessible to any internet user making a search on the basis of the content indication or related terms, including to internet users who otherwise would not have found the web page on which that content is published (see by analogy judgment of the ECJ in Google Spain, C‐131/12, para. 36). Consequently, if search engines such as Google did not delist RT and Sputnik, they would facilitate the public’s access to the content of RT and Sputnik, or contribute to such access. It follows from the foregoing that by virtue of the Regulation, providers of Internet search services must make sure that i) any link to the Internet sites of RT and Sputnik and ii) any content of RT and Sputnik, including short textual descriptions, visual elements and links to the corresponding websites do not appear in the search results delivered to users located in the EU.

I've omitted the section on social media, which is included in the same letter.

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  • Can you add a link to the letter? Mar 8, 2022 at 1:06
  • @JeopardyTempest: the link is valid only for 24 hours after signing up to the Lumen DB. It seems they generate one every time someone wants to access it. That's what I meant by annoying. Mar 8, 2022 at 6:36
  • This will definitely work, and in no way will encourage people to go to RT and Sputnik to find out what "they don't want you to know." It worked so well with Barbara Streisand's house and the Anarchist Cookbook, right? And it definitely will not be used by Putin to justify his own crackdowns on publications promoting heterodox narratives about the war. No way that could happen.
    – Obie 2.0
    Mar 8, 2022 at 10:01
  • Also, it is fortunate that there do not exist virtual private networks that let people set their location to countries other than their physical location, rendering location-based content restrictions ineffective.
    – Obie 2.0
    Mar 8, 2022 at 10:09
  • @Obie2.0 I am sure no one will think of tracking IPs of VPN providers or think of not trusting those IPs as genuine.
    – wrod
    Mar 14, 2022 at 15:04

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