Mozilla has removed multiple Russian search engines from Firefox, following reports that they’re promoting state-sponsored propaganda over independent media. The attack on Ukraine has resulted in substantial economic sanctions on Russia by the United States, European Union and their allies. It has also made tech companies like Google, Meta, Twitter, Apple and others reconsider their business plans in Russia.
Many social media companies are already limiting or restricting Russian state media and other Russian government agencies from spreading propaganda or monetizing their content. For example, platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have taken decisive steps to stop fake news and misinformation on their respective platforms and have been praised for their proactive stance during the conflict.
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Now, Firefox has removed multiple Russian search engine providers for allegedly favoring state-sponsored propaganda over independent content about the war in Ukraine. Mozilla announced its decision through the release notes for Firefox 98.0.1, which noted that “Yandex and Mail.ru have been removed as optional search providers” in the latest version of the browser. While the release notes did not provide any official reason for the decision, a Mozilla spokesperson later confirmed to Bleeping Computer that Russian propaganda was the reason behind the change. According to an official statement, the decision to remove the search options was taken due to “credible reports of search results displaying a prevalence of state-sponsored content, which is contrary to the principles of Mozilla.”
Limiting Propaganda And Disinformation
Alongside Yandex and Mail.ru, the Russian social network Odnoklassniki (ok.ru) was also removed, apparently because it’s a subsidiary of Mail.ru. According to the report, Yandex, Mail.ru and ok.ru are among the most popular websites in Russia, with more than 100 million combined users per month. The latest decision, which applies to users globally, will mainly affect people in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey, where Yandex is the default search option on Firefox. Meanwhile, as long as the decision remains in place, Mozilla says it is pointing users to Google for their search results.
The Russian state media is towing Vladimir Putin’s line and describing the war in Ukraine as a “special military operation” instead of reporting it for what it truly is. Hundreds of people, including many women and children, are already believed to have died from Russian shelling across various Ukrainian towns and cities. The conflict is not only taking a massive human toll. It is also affecting global businesses negatively. There are fears that the war could prolong the chip shortage as both Russia and Ukraine export crucial materials used to produce microchips. The war is also spooking the global oil markets and increasing crude prices to stratospheric levels.