Google donates $15m to Ukraine relief efforts, blocking RT’s YouTube channels in Europe
Google’s president of global affairs, Kent Walker, said the company is taking various steps to help those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
The tech giant said Google.org and Google employees are making $15 million in donations to help relief efforts in Ukraine, including $5 million from the company’s employee matchmaking campaign and Additional $5 million from grants. The company also offers advertising credits to humanitarian and intergovernmental organizations working on relief and resettlement efforts.
“We have issued an SOS alert on searching across Ukraine. When people search for information on refugees and evacuation, they see an alert directing them to UN resources for refugees and asylum seekers. asylum. We are working with expert organizations to find helpful humanitarian information as the situation evolves,” Walker said.
“And after consulting with multiple sources on the ground, including local authorities, we have temporarily disabled certain features of Google Live Maps in Ukraine, including the traffic layer and location attendance information, to help protect the safety of local communities and their citizens We have also added information on refugee and migrant centers in neighboring countries.
Walker also noted that Google’s security teams are working around the clock, monitoring Russian-backed hacking and influence operations.
He said they issued hundreds of warnings to Ukrainians using products like Gmail about security issues over the past year.
Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has also seen threat actors “refocus” their efforts on people and organizations in Ukraine. Walker said he saw the actors behind the GhostWriter threat group go after Ukrainian government and military officials.
“We blocked these attempts and found no compromises of Google Accounts as a result of this campaign. We have also automatically increased Google Account security protections (including more frequent authentication challenges) for people in region and will continue to do so as cyber threats evolve,” Walker said.
“Our Advanced Protection program, which offers the highest level of security from Google, currently protects the accounts of hundreds of high-risk users in Ukraine. And “Project Shield”, a service offering free and unlimited protection against attacks by distributed denial of service, is already protecting more than 100 Ukrainian websites, including local news services.”
Google is also joining Facebook and Apple in addressing issues with Russian state-backed news outlets such as Russia Today and Sputnik.
Walker said the YouTube channel connected to Russia Today and Sputnik was blocked across Europe from Tuesday. He noted that the company has already suspended the monetization of Russian state-funded media on their platforms.
Google is also limiting recommendations globally for Russian state-funded media and has removed “hundreds of channels and thousands of videos for violating its Community Guidelines”.
Walker added that the company is still concerned about the safety of its Ukrainian team and their families. He said Google had been working since January to “provide assistance, including physical security support, paid time off, support options, and reimbursement for housing, travel, and food to anyone forced to leave his home”.
Google will also comply with all sanctioning requirements, according to Walker, who noted that tools like Google Pay may become unavailable in some countries as more individuals, regions and institutions like banks are sanctioned.
Most Google products will remain available in Russia, Walker said, including Search, Maps and YouTube.
The actions came the same day that Meta and Apple announced similar actions regarding their business in Russia. Meta announced plans to downgrade Russian state-backed media content on Facebook and Instagram as part of a wide range of efforts.
Apple is suspending all product sales in Russia, halting all exports to the country, and limiting Apple Pay there as well. Russia Today and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the App Store outside of Russia, and Apple has disabled live traffic and incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine.
Twitter sets up similar measuresincluding suspending ads in Ukraine and Russia “to ensure critical public safety information is high and ads don’t take it away.”
Twitch and OnlyFans have reportedly blocked all users in Russia from accessing their accounts, preventing users from withdrawing money earned on their respective platforms amid tougher sanctions introduced against Russia.