Russian authorities in the city of Chelyabinsk are spending large amounts of money to improve the online image of the city in search results from Google, Yandex and the like.
According to the Telegraph, authorities of the city of Chelyabinsk are spending an amount equal to £8,000 to improve and enhance the online image and footprint of the city (which is famously known as one of the dirtiest cities in the country), so that when the city’s name is searched on web, users will get to read more positive reviews.
"When an organ of state power uses budget money so that people requesting information on 'the accident at the Mayak NGO' receive 80 percent positive feedback is just disgusting and immoral," Alexei Navalny, a Russian blogger said. Navalny had exposed the plan of the government authorities on his blog.
It could be argued that £8,000 is small change compared to the amount western companies spend on 'search engine optimisation' - if indeed it can fall under that category.
Chelyabinsk is a region in Russia, nearly 900 miles from the capital city of Moscow which shares its border with Kazakhstan. With a population of around 3.6 million people, Chelyabinsk has suffered some of the world’s worst nuclear accidents during the Soviet Era, and continues to remain one of the most polluted areas on the planet.
The regional authorities have defended their plan and associated expenditure stating that the region of Chelyabinsk has been harmed beyond recognition, and web optimisation is needed to stop false stories being published which are funded by money from foreign industries.