On 1 January 2017, a Russian federal law (№ 208-FZ) came into force that holds news aggregators liable for spreading fake news. Links to news items that originate from registered media outlets – a state-regulated category – are, however, exempt from liability. As a result, news aggregators, such as Yandex News, have revised their algorithms to avoid legal claims. This article argues that the law has created a mechanism of indirect media control enabling the Russian state to influence online news dissemination through existing media regulation structures. It conceptualises five ways in which this mechanism can affect media pluralism in Russia’s online news environment, given news aggregators’ function as algorithmic gatekeepers directing traffic to news websites. The article argues that the law ‘On news aggregators’ exemplifies the diversification of Russian regulation of online news from controlling content and targeting content producers towards governing the algorithmic infrastructures that shape news dissemination.
- News aggregators
- algorithmic recommender systems
- internet governance
- media regulation
- news aggregators