Google, SpaceX and other big tech companies are coming to Ukraine's aid
With Russia's invasion of Ukraine growing in scope, some of the biggest technology firms in the world are stepping in to help in any way they can.
Whether it is a large data-based platform like Google, a tech expertise company like Microsoft, a satellite firm like , or even a product company like Apple, everyone is trying to do their bit.
Sundar Pichai, the Indian-born CEO of Google, recently tweeted out a set of guidelines that the search giant will be undertaking to help Ukraine and its citizens during this invasion.
Google Search has been updated to provided SOS updates to Ukrainians looking for aid, and will direct them to verified resources from the UN and other trustworthy organisations in the region. Google Maps has been updated to disable traffic monitoring to protect citizens' safety.
They've also improved security vigilance to ensure that hackers can't enter Google accounts of Ukrainians or any other important individuals and organisations that could alter the ground reality.
According to a company statement, "Russia-backed hacking and influence operations are not new to us; we’ve been taking action against them for years."
Finally, Google and it's charitable arm Google.org are directly giving $15 million to help the fight against Russia. Of this, $5 million is in direct grants, $5 million in their employee0matching donations, and $5 million in advertising credits for humanitarian organisations.
YouTube is also getting involved as part of Google's effort. RT and Sputnik, government-affiliated news organisations in Russia, have had their channels blocked across Europe. Additionally, they have also been limited across the globe.
The streaming giant is focused on amplifying truthful and authoritative voices on the Ukraine crises so that viewers in Ukraine, Russia, Europe, and the world have access to the right information.
The computing giant has been working with US and Ukrainian government officials to warn them of hacking threats from Russia, as well as how to deal with them. Additionally, alongside the Google PlayStore, they have limited downloads of RT and other Russian apps, and reduced their advertising options.
Social media companies
Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook/Meta have all announced restrictions on ad spends and accounts for Russian media accounts. Additionally, there have even been some limitations on user interactions with the platforms in Russia, presumably so that the platforms can take time to make sure that misinformation is not spread via other means.
After an appeal by Ukraine, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that the space company's Starlink service has been uploaded for users in Ukraine since the invasion began. Starlink is a satellite service that provides Internet to communities with infrastructure and accessibility issues.
Another of Musk's companies, Tesla, announced that their supercharging public stations will be free for regions bordering Ukraine so that local Tesla owners don't have to worry about transportation costs at the border of a warzone.
In response to Ukrainian appeals to limit Apple's tech to everyday Russians, the company shut down all stores in Russia for the foreseeable future.
Airbnb, the tech platform which helps travellers find places to stay off the beaten path, has announced free housing for Ukrainians.
Unfortunately, not all efforts have been positive. Cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase have refused to limit Russian-based transactions where they can, as they claim that is against the ethos of the blockchain ecosystem.