How Tech is Supporting Ukraine

Leading tech companies in the U.S. are leveraging their resources, capabilities, and expertise to assist Ukraine and defend its sovereignty. From detecting and preventing cyberattacks to resisting Russian misinformation, contributing tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian and in-kind aid, organizing fundraising efforts across their platforms, and highlighting resources for Ukrainians, and more, tech is stepping up to support Ukraine.

Countering Misinformation

Google is blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe. This builds on its indefinite pause of monetization of Russian state-funded media across platforms, meaning media outlets such as RT are not allowed to monetize their content or advertise on Google’s platforms.

The company has also significantly limited recommendations globally for a number of Russian state-funded media outlets across platforms. And in the past few days, YouTube has removed hundreds of channels and thousands of videos for violating its Community Guidelines, including a number of channels engaging in coordinated deceptive practices.

Google has also banned downloads of Russian state-owned media outlet RT’s mobile app on Ukrainian territory at the request of the government in Kyiv.

Facebook is restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU and the UK.

Meta is demoting posts containing links to Russian state-controlled media on Facebook and Instagram. The company is labeling content to let people know that they lead to Russian state-controlled media sites. In addition to downranking posts from Russian state-controlled media in the feed, the company is also showing people a notice before they reshare content from these accounts in their Stories, letting them know that the content comes from Russian state-controlled media.

In accordance with the EU’s recent decision, the Microsoft Start platform (including will not display any state-sponsored RT and Sputnik content. The company is removing RT news apps from the Windows app store and further de-ranking these sites’ search results on Bing so that it will only return RT and Sputnik links when a user clearly intends to navigate to those pages. Finally, Microsoft is banning all advertisements from RT and Sputnik across their ad network and will not place any ads from their ad network on these sites.

Microsoft has also suspended all new sales of Microsoft products and services in Russia.

Netflix has responded to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine by saying that it will not comply with new Russian rules to carry 20 state-backed channels.

Netflix was due to fall under a series of new obligations in Russia on March 1 after it was added to a register of “audiovisual services” overseen by the country’s communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, last year.

Netflix has also suspended service in Russia.

Ukraine’s Digital Minister has been using Twitter as an essential tool in the war with Russia. He used the platform to directly reach out to large corporations for support in the effort. “Each platform is very important to us now and we are using every opportunity to attract large companies to this horror happening now in Ukraine. We are trying to bring the truth to the Russians and make them protest against the war,” he told the BBC via email. “Twitter has become an efficient tool that we are using to counter Russian military aggression. It’s our smart and peaceful tool to destroy Russian economy,” he says.

Twitter is proactively reviewing Tweets to detect platform manipulation (or other inauthentic behavior) and taking enforcement action against synthetic and manipulated media that presents a false or misleading depiction of what’s happening. Tweets linking to Russian state-affiliated media websites will be labeled, and the company is not accepting any ad money or amplifying accounts.

Recently, Twitter has launched a privacy-protected version of its site to bypass surveillance and censorship after Russia restricted access to its service in the country.

Humanitarian Aid

Microsoft has now committed over $35 million to support humanitarian assistance and relief efforts for Ukraine. This includes more than $18 million worth of Microsoft technology to help organizations such as the Polish Humanitarian Action respond to critical needs and others providing services on the ground.

Microsoft employee donations are being matched by the company 2:1, resulting in more than $13.5 million raised to date in support of organizations working both within Ukraine and supporting refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. These funds are provided to key NGOs with the mission of helping Ukrainians.

The company is committed to using its technology, skills, resources, and voice to assist in humanitarian response efforts. Its initial and immediate focus has been on support for humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC that are doing critical work to help support refugees fleeing into neighboring countries. Microsoft has also activated the Microsoft Disaster Response Team to provide technology support, and they are in frequent touch with additional first responders to provide help.

Together, and Google employees are contributing $15 million in donations and in-kind support to aid relief efforts in Ukraine, including $5 million from employee matching campaign and $5 million in direct grants. The company is also contributing $5 million in advertising credits to help trusted humanitarian and intergovernmental organizations connect people to important sources of aid and resettlement information. Recently, Google announced an additional $10 million commitment to help organizations delivering both immediate humanitarian aid and longer-term assistance for refugees in Poland.

Amazon is donating $5 million to organizations that are providing critical support on the ground, including UNICEF, UNHCR, World Food Program, Red Cross, Polska Akcja Humanitarna, and Save the Children. The company is matching up to $5 million in additional donations from its team to those organizations. The company is also adding donation buttons to the homepages of its websites in the U.S., UK, and Germany, and will waive its fees for payment processing.

Recently, Amazon launched the Welcome Door program, a new initiative to provide refugee and humanitarian-based immigrant employees with additional resources and support, along with reimbursement for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) fees. The program also offers employees access to upskilling opportunities, including free college tuition and English as a Second Language (ESL) proficiency through the Career Choice program.

Snap, Inc. has pledged over $15 million in humanitarian aid to support organizations providing direct relief to the people of Ukraine.

Apple is supporting humanitarian efforts and providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, which includes donations to relief agencies and nonprofits, such as World Central Kitchen, Doctors Without Borders and the International Rescue Committee. The company is prompting users to make a donation to UNICEF, with banners and notices on its website and in some apps urging customers to aid Ukraine, and will be matching employee donations at a rate of 2:1 for eligible organizations.

Facebook is committing $15 million to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighboring countries. This includes $5 million in direct donations to UN agencies and more than a dozen nonprofits, including International Medical Corps who will be using these funds to deploy mobile medical units to Ukraine and Internews to support at-risk journalists and human rights defenders in the region. The company is also donating to UNICEF to scale up lifesaving support for children and families in Ukraine and the region. The remaining $10 million will be provided as ad credits, helping nonprofit organizations raise the funds they need to respond and deliver essential information to people impacted by the violence.

Twitter launched a giving campaign for employees with donations going toward verified organizations directly supporting Ukrainian refugees seeking shelter and safety. Twitter will match all of the donations, as well as make a direct contribution to a partner organization.

IBMers around the world are encouraged to continue making donations to the International Red Cross. In addition, the company is donating to two organizations that are providing critical support to the most heavily impacted areas: $250,000 to People in Need in Czech Republic, and $250,000 to Polish Humanitarian Action in Poland.

Salesforce and its employees are donating an initial $2 million to nonprofit relief organizations working to help people in Ukraine and those who are being displaced. And the company is accelerating its work to address the humanitarian crisis.

Netflix’s co-founder, chairman and co-CEO Reed Hastings announced a $1 million donation to Razom for Ukraine, a non-profit organization providing emergency relief to Ukraine.

SAP has allocated an initial €1 million in humanitarian support for the people of Ukraine and are working with national Red Cross organizations, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and other organizations to offer its technology to support their efforts.

Epic Games is committing all Fortnite proceeds from March 20, 2022 through April 3, 2022 to humanitarian relief for people affected by the war in Ukraine. Xbox is joining in this effort and is committing their net proceeds for Fortnite during this time.

In two weeks, Fortnite has raised a total of $144 million for Ukraine relief efforts. The funds are being put towards several aid groups, including Direct Relief, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Food Programme.

Highlighting Resources

Facebook is updating Community Help as a central resource on Facebook where Ukrainians and others in the region can find reliable information from local UN agencies and Red Cross societies. This includes where to seek medical help, how to stay safe and how to get assistance — both in Ukraine and once they have crossed into neighboring countries. 

The company is adding mental health tips and resources from international organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Medical Corps in the Emotional Health Center on Facebook. 

Facebook is supporting organizations in their efforts to get critical messaging out to those affected by the crisis through free ad campaigns on its platforms.

State Emergency Services has launched an information helpline on WhatsApp. The free service will connect users to critical updates, reliable and trustworthy information, as well as details about emergency response procedures.

Google launched an SOS alert on Search across Ukraine. When people search for refugee and evacuation information, they will see an alert pointing them to United Nations resources for refugees and asylum seekers. The company is working with expert organizations to source helpful humanitarian information as the situation unfolds. On Google Maps, it has also added information on refugee and migrant centers in neighboring countries.

Twitter’s curated Twitter Moments about the war in Ukraine share real-time news and resources in multiple languages, and have been viewed more than 8.08 billion times.

Its Search and Home Timeline prompts surface critical digital safety and security resources in English, Ukrainian, and Russian.

Fundraising Platform

Since February 23, people on Facebook and Instagram have raised more than $30 million for nonprofits supporting humanitarian relief in Ukraine. This is the generosity of over 750,000 donors benefitting more than 1,500 nonprofits. Donations are supporting both short- and long-term relief across Ukraine and for refugees in neighboring countries, including urgent medical care, shelter, food and transportation. 

For customers who want to help, Amazon is adding donation buttons or direct links to charitable organizations on the homepages of its websites, and will waive fees for payment processing on donations made through Amazon.

Airbnb users have been booking stays in Ukraine — with no intention of actually going — to transfer money quickly to residents in need. As of March 11, more than 434,000 nights have been booked, contributing more than $15 million to hosts in Ukraine.

On Etsy, users are buying digital stickers from Ukrainian shops as a way to funnel money to Ukrainians. To help Ukrainians financially, Etsy announced it will waive all balances for Ukraine-based sellers. “Being part of a community means that when one part is suffering, the rest of us must step up and offer our support,” Etsy CEO Josh Silverman wrote in a recent blog post. According to Etsy, it is waiving a total of around $4 million in fees, which includes listing, advertising, and transaction fees.

Data Support as Aid

Facebook is sharing privacy preserving datasets with trusted partners, including information on social connections between Ukraine and the rest of Europe, as well as real time mobility data for countries bordering Ukraine, to help predict refugee flows. Direct Relief and Crisis Ready have produced a number of daily situation reports using this information, which are in active use by groups like the World Bank, UNICEF and Médecins Sans Frontières.

Cybersecurity Support

Several hours before the launch of missiles or movement of tanks on February 24, Microsoft’s Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) detected a new round of offensive and destructive cyberattacks directed against Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. The company immediately advised the Ukrainian government about the situation, including identification of the use of a new malware package (denominated FoxBlade), and provided technical advice on steps to prevent the malware’s success. (Within three hours of this discovery, signatures to detect this new exploit had been written and added to Microsoft’s Defender anti-malware service, helping to defend against this new threat.) In recent days, the company has provided threat intelligence and defensive suggestions to Ukrainian officials regarding attacks on a range of targets, including Ukrainian military institutions and manufacturers and several other Ukrainian government agencies. This work is ongoing.

Facebook saw increased targeting of Ukrainian military and public figures by Ghostwriter, a threat actor that has been tracked for some time by the security community. The company is encouraging people in Ukraine and Russia to adopt stronger account security measures — like two-factor authentication — to protect their information in the midst of this invasion. It is rolling out privacy and security measures to help people in Ukraine and Russia protect their accounts from being targeted.

Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has been working around the clock, focusing on the safety and security of users and the platforms that help them access and share important information. Over the past two weeks, TAG has observed activity from a range of threat actors that the company regularly monitor and are well-known to law enforcement, including FancyBear and Ghostwriter. This activity ranges from espionage to phishing campaigns. Google is sharing this information to help raise awareness among the security community and high risk users.

As DDoS attempts continue against numerous Ukraine sites, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as services like Liveuamap that are designed to help people find information, Google is expanding eligibility for Project Shield, its free protection against DDoS attacks, so that Ukrainian government websites, embassies worldwide and other governments in close proximity to the conflict can stay online, protect themselves and continue to offer their crucial services and ensure access to the information people need.

Project Shield allows Google to absorb the bad traffic in a DDoS attack and act as a “shield” for websites, allowing them to continue operating and defend against these attacks. As of today, over 150 websites in Ukraine, including many news organizations, are using the service.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been working closely with Ukrainian customers and partners to keep their applications secure. Teams of Account Managers, Security Specialists, Solutions Architects, and other technical professionals are working around the clock to help customers and partners at this critical time. Amazon is helping these customers employ security best practices, through following its Well-Architected Framework, to ensure that workloads are protected. In other cases, the company is building and supplying technical services and tools to customers in Ukraine to help them securely migrate their on-premises infrastructure onto AWS in order to protect it from any potential physical or virtual attack.

For several weeks, Amazon has been partnering closely with Ukrainian IT organizations to fend off attacks and working with organizations in Ukraine, and around the world, to share real-time, relevant intelligence. As malware signatures and activity has ramped up, Amazon teams and technologies detected the threats, learned the patterns, and placed remediation tools directly into the hands of customers. Its security teams are sharing this intelligence with governments and IT organizations that it partners closely with from Europe, North America, and around the world to equip critical infrastructure owners and operators with additional information to protect their facilities.

Twitter launched a Search and Home Timeline prompts that point to a Twitter Moment with digital safety and security resources in English, Ukrainian, and Russian. The company is actively monitoring vulnerable high-profile accounts, including journalists, activists, and government officials and agencies to mitigate any attempts at a targeted takeover or manipulation.

Suspending Sales and Services in Russia

Airbnb is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus.

Amazon has suspended shipment of retail products to customers based in Russia and Belarus and will no longer provide customers with access to Prime Video in Russia. Amazon Web Services is no longer accepting new customers in Russia and Belarus.

Apple has stopped all sales in Russia and limiting the functionality of some services, including Apple Pay. The company has also banned ads in the Russian app store.

Facebook is pausing ads targeting people in Russia, and advertisers within Russia will no longer be able to create or run ads anywhere in the world, including within Russia.

Google has suspended all ad sales in Russia and is pausing Google Play and YouTube’s billing system for Russian users.

IBM has suspended all business in Russia.

Intel has suspended all shipments to customers in Russia and Belarus, including chips.

Microsoft has suspended all new sales of its products and services in Russia.

Netflix has suspended service in Russia and paused all future projects and acquisitions from Russia.

PayPal has shut down its services in Russia and stopped accepting new users in the country.

Qualcomm has stopped selling products to Russian companies.

Snapchat has halted all ad sales to Russian and Belarusian entities.

Twitter is pausing advertisements in Ukraine and Russia.

Protecting Ukrainians’ Privacy/Safety

Google has temporarily disabled for Ukraine some Google Maps tools which provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy different places are.

The company said it had taken the action of globally disabling the Google Maps traffic layer and live information on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine for the safety of local communities in the country, after consulting with sources including regional authorities.

Apple has disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.

To help protect communities in Ukraine and Russia, Facebook is now hiding information about people’s followers, who they’re following, and people who are following each other for private accounts based in these two countries. 

This means that people following private accounts based in Ukraine and Russia will no longer be able to see who those accounts are following, or who follows them. The company is also not showing these accounts in other people’s follower or following lists, or in the “mutual follows” feature.

In-Kind Help

Uber is offering unlimited free rides from the Ukrainian border to Polish cities for refugees and their families as part of its effort to support Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia last week. and Airbnb are announcing that will offer free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

At the request of Ukrainian Digital Minister Mykhailo Fedorov on Twitter, SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service is now available in Ukraine. The company is sending more terminals, which use an antenna and terminal to access the satellite broadband service, to the country, whose internet has been disrupted due to the Russian invasion.

All four major US carriers are making it less expensive for you to communicate with relatives and friends in Ukraine, following Russia’s invasion this week.

T-Mobile is waiving international long-distance and international roaming charges for calls and text messaging made to and from US and Ukraine, the mobile carrier said Thursday. This weeklong waiver will be available to T-Mobile and Sprint postpaid and prepaid consumer and business customers from Feb. 24 to March 3. It also includes calls made within Ukraine to local numbers to cover roaming customers in Ukraine.

Verizon will waive charges for calls from its postpaid consumer and business wireless customers and residential landline customers to and from Ukraine from Feb. 25 to March 10, the carrier said Friday. Verizon also said it’s waiving voice and text roaming charges for customers in Ukraine.

AT&T is also offering unlimited long-distance calling from the US to Ukraine to all consumer and business postpaid and prepaid wireless customers, and consumer VoIP and landline customers from Feb. 26 to March 7, the company said Friday. US Cellular, the country’s fourth-largest mobile carrier, is offering customers free calls to Ukraine from the US from Feb. 25 to March 31.

Google Cloud is offering free services through credits to eligible organizations, with an emphasis on supporting those involved in providing humanitarian assistance such as medical supplies, food relief, and refugee support and aid.

To help people communicate with friends and family at this urgent time, Google is waiving international calling fees from Ukraine and from the U.S. to Ukraine on Google Fi, and waiving calling fees to Ukraine for people using Google Voice for the time being.

Tesla owners fleeing Ukraine can use its Superchargers for free in four cities in bordering Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, according to a report from Electrek, which cited an email to local owners. This comes after Russian forces invaded Ukraine last week.

Both Tesla and non-Tesla electric vehicles can use the chargers at no cost in Trzebownisko, Poland; Košice, Slovakia; Miskolc, Hungary; and Debrecen, Hungary, the email reportedly said.

To alleviate some of the burden, Etsy is canceling the current balances owed to the company by all sellers in Ukraine, which includes listing fees, transaction fees, advertising fees, and more. This will extend to Ukraine-based sellers in all of its marketplaces, including, Depop, and Reverb. This represents a contribution of approximately $4 million towards the community.

SAP software solutions can help organizations register refugees, coordinate volunteer efforts, and procure humanitarian goods. Additionally, the company is working with Qualtrics to help non-profits and regional governments understand the most pressing needs of the people they serve and route them with accommodations and essential supplies on the ground. It has also offered to convert office space at locations across Europe into warehousing and accommodation for refugees.

Leveraging Drones

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense has called on all citizens of Kyiv who own hobby drones to bring them in and help monitor the city as Russia invades, according to a new Facebook post by the military. Even if people don’t know how to fly their own drones very well they’re still being encouraged to bring them in so that experienced drone pilots can put them to good use during this critical time.

Unlike the much larger Turkish-built combat drones that Ukraine has in its arsenal, off-the-shelf consumer drones aren’t much use as weapons — but they can be powerful reconnaissance tools. Civilians have been using the aerial cameras to track Russian convoys and then relay the images and GPS coordinates to Ukrainian troops. Some of the machines have night vision and heat sensors.

From commercial quadcopters to fixed-wing military models, drones have proved important to Ukraine, giving its outgunned defense better chances against the huge Russian military. Early in the war, a civilian drone team called Aerorozvidka worked with military units to help Ukraine stall a convoy of armored vehicles headed toward Kyiv, the country’s capital. During a nighttime ambush, the unmanned aircraft dropped small explosives on the lead vehicles, which along with mines caused a pileup. The team also helped Ukraine repel Russia’s initial attempt to seize the airport near Kyiv.