Yandex warns Russian users of unreliable information online after Moscow threatens media

The logo of Russian internet group Yandex is pictured at the company’s headquarters in Moscow, Russia October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo

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MOSCOW, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Russian tech giant Yandex (YNDX.O) has started warning Russian users looking for information about Ukraine on its unreliable internet news search engine, after Moscow threatened the Russian media with what they publish.

Authorities on Thursday threatened to block media reports containing what Moscow called ‘false information’ regarding its military operation in Ukraine, an offensive that saw Ukrainian forces battle Russian invaders on three sides and missiles pound the capital. Ukrainian, Kyiv. Read more

“Some material on the Internet may contain inaccurate information. Please be aware,” read a message under the Yandex search bar when looking for the latest Ukraine news. The message was only displayed to users searching in Russian.

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Yandex said the banner message automatically appears on search queries where there is an abnormal spike in growth or rapid updates in the news.

“The banner is not tied to any request,” Yandex said.

The company said the banner first appeared on Thursday night.

Earlier Thursday, Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor said the amount of unverified and unreliable information appearing online had increased dramatically, and reminded editors that they must establish whether the information is true before to publish them.

There was no indication that Roskomnadzor had started blocking reports for Russian users. Earlier this month, the regulator ordered some media outlets to remove from their websites information about corruption allegations spread by jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Read more

“They must use information and data received only from official Russian sources,” Roskomnadzor said of the information about Russia’s “special operation.” Those who spread what he calls “false information” could be fined or have their reports blocked.

“MILITARY CENSORSHIP”

“Roskomnadzor is trying to establish military censorship in Russia,” said Tikhon Dzyadko, editor-in-chief of TV Rain (Dozhd), a media outlet that suffered a crackdown last year on media that Russia considers to be “foreign agents”.

The media regulator has also taken umbrage at US companies in recent days, demanding that Meta Platforms (FB.O) stop restricting Russian media, including the RIA news agency and the Defense Ministry’s Zvezda TV channel on Facebook.

Roskomnadzor wants Google Alphabet (GOOGL.O) to remove restrictions blocking the YouTube channel of Denis Pushilin, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine that Moscow recognized as independent this week.

“In connection with the regular blocking of Western Internet services, Roskomnadzor urges users to create accounts on Russian resources and use Russian social networks,” the regulator said.

Facebook and Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Gleb Stolyarov; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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