GA Agency Collaborated with BBC News, Researching War-Related Queries in Russia

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We recently worked with BBC News on their research into how Google and Yandex display search results for war-related queries in Russia. BBC Monitoring wanted to find out what people in Russia see when they search on the web. What they discovered was an alternative reality dominated by Russian propaganda about the war.

If we look at the searches for Bucha, the Ukrainian town where hundreds of civilians were killed by Russian troops, the research conducted shows very different results. On Google, there are shocking headlines from around the world about these awful killings, but Yandex was the opposite. The team at BBC used a VPN so it was as if they were based in Russia, from searching they discovered that the top page of results denied the killings had ever taken place. Pro-Kremlin articles dominated the rankings, and even a search for “Ukraine” showed results heavily slated towards the Kremlin’s narrative.

There were several specialists who participated in the research, they believe that it’s unlikely that large-scale manipulation was taking place from inside Yandex. Instead, it’s possibly because results are being skewed by the Kremlin’s crackdown on independent reporting of the invasion.

Our Founder Guido Ampollini and our SEO Specialist Mykhailo Orlov who lives in Ukraine contributed towards this research, they discussed that the search engine’s algorithm may reward pro-Kremlin material with higher rankings and down-rank alternative views.

You can read the full article if you’re interested in learning more about the findings that have come from this research, and why this is happening.

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