Yandex Censors Search So ‘Bald F*cker’ and ‘Bunker Grandad’ Won’t Show Putin: Report

Russia’s largest search engine has secretly placed blocks in its code to prevent images of Putin showing up in the results of potentially embarrassing searches, according to one report, with the Nazi symbol also allegedly removed from the results of queries for Symbol “Z” show support for the war in Ukraine.

Last week, snippets of Yandex’s source code—sometimes referred to as “Russia’s Google”—was leaked online. Since then, experts have been poring over this piece of code to see what they can glean about how the site works, with some startling results.

According to an independent Russian news site medzaYandex has automatically changed users’ search queries to prevent an image of President Vladimir Putin from showing up when users search for individual words including “bald” and “bastard”.

The site also has mechanisms to prevent Putin’s image from appearing in the results for specific, unflattering phrases. According to the report, they include the “grandpa in the bunker”, the “master thief” and “the dick in a spacesuit”. Results for queries including “what do pedophiles look like”, “when does he die” and “waving strange creature” are also said to have been filtered to ensure Putin’s image will not displayed.

Meduza’s report claims that these filtering rules will apply regardless of the country a user searches from, but it’s unclear when the rules will be rolled out or if they’ll still work.

Looks like the same rules have also been included in the Yandex code to keep the letter “Z” appear alongside outcomes that the Kremlin considers undesirable. Since Moscow’s forces first marched across the border into Ukraine last February, the letter “Z” has become a prominent symbol of support for the Russian invasion and has therefore been banned from display. public in some European countries.

And to prevent the “Z” symbol from appearing alongside other hate symbols — specifically those associated with Nazism — Yandex is said to have blocked certain content from appearing in the results. for the “Z symbol”. This is believed to have worked because Yandex secretly added “minus words” to search, meaning the engine would remove content related to “hitler”, “nazis”, “ss” or “reich”. from the results.

Meduza reports that the swastika still appears in Yandex search results for the “Z” or “specially active logo” symbol, but “don’t know if this is because the filter has been turned off or it simply isn’t working.” Good move.”

It seems that the sensitivities surrounding the invasion of Ukraine even extend to words that Yandex will allow use in its CAPTCHAs—online tests designed to confirm users are human, usually by entering a randomly generated word or phrase displayed to the user in distorted text.

According to Meduza, some words have been banned from the Yandex CAPTCHA. These include the words “death” and “google”, but the word “surrender” is said to have been added to the list after the start of the invasion of Ukraine. The Russian word for “lion” is also said to have been added after the outbreak of war—Meduza says this is “very likely” because the word is homophonic. Lvivcity ​​in western Ukraine.

The new statements are not the first allegations of censorship involving Yandex. This past June, the site’s CEO and co-founder Arkady Volozh resigned after being personally sanctioned by the EU for Yandex’s “relegation and removal of content critical of the Kremlin, such as content relating to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

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