Networks of Freedom Standing for Freedom
By Chip Pickering, CEO, INCOMPAS
As peace has been shattered in Europe and millions of families displaced from war-torn Ukraine, INCOMPAS is proud that our member companies have taken a strong stand for freedom and democracy. Amazon, DISH, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Netflix and Twitter have all sent a strong message against Russian aggression and dictatorship, while providing aid to those in need.
We build new networks of freedom. Networks that bring more choice and opportunity. Networks that give voice to new ideas from new places. These are the networks of democracy. From streaming and cloud to social media and software, internet innovations are designed to better connect the world. That is why I am so proud to see these innovators taking actions to protect the blanket of freedom that fostered their ability to create.
After I completed my undergraduate studies and moved into my graduate work, I spent time in the Eastern Bloc, studying and contrasting free markets of the West with socialist/communist countries of the East. At the core of our free markets is the idea and belief that all people should have the freedom to speak, freedom to believe and the freedom to build new ideas into reality. At INCOMPAS, we frequently highlight how competition, open internet and new networks give people the opportunity to let their voice be heard – heard by more people in more places than at any point in human history.
Make no mistake, aggression by Russia and Vladimir Putin is an act of war not only against Ukraine, but against the ideas of freedom that built the internet economy and the greatest economic engine in the history of the world.
This week, a joint session of Congress received a recorded virtual address from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – communicating over secure high-speed networks and virtual platforms built by American ingenuity. A young leader, from a young democracy with the courage to stand against Putin even as Russian bombs fall on Freedom Square in Kharkiv.
At INCOMPAS, we know this conflict is far from over, with unknown ramifications and an ongoing need to support displaced families and freedoms that are under siege. Here are the highlights of actions being taken by our member companies to aid in the fight:
- Updates to Amazon’s retail, entertainment, and AWS businesses
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. Read more.
- Amazon’s cybersecurity assistance for Ukraine
- Amazon is working with NGOs and employees to offer immediate support to the people of Ukraine
Amazon is donating $5 million to organizations that are providing critical support on the ground in Ukraine and matching up to $5 million in additional donations from employees. Read more.
- DISH and Sling drop RT. Read more.
- Meta has established a special operations center staffed by experts from across the company, including native Russian and Ukrainian speakers, who are monitoring the platform around the clock, allowing the company to respond to issues in real time.
- Meta has added several safety features in Ukraine and Russia, including the ability for people to lock their Facebook profile, removing the ability to view and search friends lists, and additional tools on Messenger.
- Meta is taking extensive steps to fight the spread of misinformation and implementing more transparency and restrictions around state-controlled media outlets.
- Updating Community Help: Meta 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. It also features access to Ukraine’s State Emergency Services information helpline on WhatsApp, which connects people with critical information including emergency response procedures. Meta will show a link to Community Help at the top of people’s Facebook and Instagram feeds for people in Ukraine or for those who have left recently for neighboring countries, letting them know that this resource is available. It will also be available globally at facebook.com/community_help_ukraine, as well as at the top of results for relevant searches on Facebook.
- Showing solidarity on Facebook: Since February 24, more than 3 million people have joined support groups on Facebook created to express solidarity with the Ukrainian people, including local communities that are providing humanitarian aid, accommodation, legal advice or medical aid, among other forms of assistance. Also since then, more than 10 million people have used the Ukrainian flag profile frame on Facebook.
- Fundraising for non-profits: Since February 23, people on Facebook and Instagram have raised more than $30 million for non-profits supporting humanitarian relief in Ukraine. This is the generosity of over 750,000 donors benefitting more than 1,500 non-profits. 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.
- Helping Ukraine
- Google’s security teams are working 24/7 to protect Ukrainian users and important local services. They continue to see DDoS attempts against numerous Ukraine sites, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as services like Liveuamap designed to help people find information. Google has expanded eligibility for Project Shield, their 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.
- Google said it has removed Russian state-backed news outlets, including RT ,from Google News searches in a move the company said would help stop the spread of misinformation. Google also blocked apps from Russian outlets Sputnik and RT from its Play app store as tech companies prepare for a possible European Commission ban on the state-sponsored news organizations.
- Google then suspended the sale of online advertising in Russia across its search platform, YouTube and publishing partners, having already banned ads that looked to take advantage of the war under its sensitive events policy, except for those related to protests or anti-war efforts.
- Netflix shuts down its services in Russia
- Netflix Pauses All Projects, Acquisitions From Russia
- Netflix says it will not stream Russian propaganda channels
- Twitter Inc. said any links shared by users to Russian state media would include a label warning that their tweet "links to a Russia state-affiliated media website," while a company spokesman told CNN it plans to reduce the "visibility and amplification" of pro-Russian content across its platform.