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The report claimed: "State-owned Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 USA general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary Clinton".

Schmidt said Russian disinformation is easy to combat because it involves "amplification around a message" that is "repetitive, exploitative, false [or] likely to have been weaponized".

Interfax quoted Aleksandr Zharov, head of Russia's Roskomnadzor media regulator, as saying that his agency sent a letter to Google on November 21 requesting clarification of comments over the weekend by Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Google's parent company Alphabet, in which Schmidt said Google is "working on.de-ranking" the Russian news websites.

The Alphabet chairman said the search engine's algorithms could be used to limit the reach of RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik, the BBC reports. "We're well aware and we're trying to engineer the systems to prevent it", Schmidt said.

Google is preparing to take action against state-run Russian news agencies which have been accused of spreading propaganda and undermining Western democracy.

Schmidt said, "I am strongly not in favour of censorship". It's what we do.

Google does not manually assign rankings to individual websites, Faville said, but analyzes a website's attributes to automatically give it a position in results.

Responding to Schmidt's comments, the publications, which have always defended themselves as legitimate news organisations, called the move as arbitrary and a form of censorship.

"We didn't see this a few years ago,"Schmidt said".

USA intelligence services accuse Russian Federation of trying to favor Donald Trump by spreading fake news and hacking the Democratic National Committee networks. Microblogging site Twitter last month announced that RT and Sputnik would not be allowed to buy advertisements on its platform. Russian is in the process of making a law that would allow authorities to force any foreign media organisation to register as a "foreign agent" after RT was forced to register under a similar statute in the US. But, Russia has repeatedly denied claims that it interfered in the 2016 presidential elections.