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Big Tech responds to war in Ukraine

The news: As various countries piled on economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia, the world watched the response from Big Tech companies whose economic power could add significant pressure on the invading forces.

Reactions from Big Tech:

  • Apple responded to Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov’s appeal and has since decided to stop selling products in Russia, putting pressure on other smartphone manufacturers. Apple also turned off Apple Pay and other services.
  • SpaceX activated its Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine and sent ground terminals to help provide communication during the siege.
  • Google has suspended all advertising in Russia and disabled live Google Maps features “including the traffic layer and information about how busy places are,” to protect people on the ground. The search giant also said it was providing protection against DDoS attacks for more than 100 Ukrainian websites.
  • Meta, which operates Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, set up a response team to counter potential threats and disinformation, and has rolled out account privacy and security protections for users in Ukraine. It has also pledged $15 million for humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
  • Microsoft has served as a cybersecurity watchdog for the Ukrainian government, by detecting and advising on cyber threats. "We remain especially concerned about recent cyberattacks on Ukrainian civilian digital targets, including the financial sector, agriculture sector, emergency response services, humanitarian aid efforts, and energy sector organizations and enterprises," the company said. The company has also suspended sales in Russia.
  • Netflix has reportedly halted all Russian productions and content acquisitions.
  • Snap, Twitter, and TikTok stopped Russian advertising, and Spotify closed its office in Moscow and suspended some Russian state content on its services. Snap, which was founded by a Ukrainian company, pledged $15 million in humanitarian aid.
  • AMD suspended chip sales to Russia and Belarus.
  • Amazon has offered its services to Ukraine, including logistics to help deliver needed supplies and cybersecurity support for the government and companies.

The bigger picture: Multinational Big Tech companies—which have the power and the influence of nation-states—are now exercising their influence to support Ukraine as well as put additional pressure on Russia and Belarus in response to the war in Ukraine.

Big Tech’s role in the world has moved beyond service providers and suppliers to directly influencing the direction of war. How the world will react once the conflict has passed remains to be seen.