MARCH 9: Even as war rages on in Ukraine, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the country, many top Silicon Valley giants have adopted a blanket ban on their services across Russia, in order to pressure Kremlin.
Some of them have completely stopped operations whereas others have partially stopped ad monetisation or blocked state propaganda news websites. Others have stopped sales of their new products in Russia from immediate effect.
Some of the tech giants who have taken action to suspend monetisation, or shut down operations of their services in Russia, partly or wholly are:
- Meta (FB & Instagram)
On behalf of Oracle’s 150,000 employees around the world and in support of both the elected government of Ukraine and for the people of Ukraine, Oracle Corporation has already suspended all operations in the Russian Federation.
— Oracle (@Oracle) March 2, 2022
With the suspension of many services including that of Facebook, Russia is now offficially in a digital iron curtain.
We’re fighting the spread of misinformation on our apps and putting more restrictions and transparency on state-controlled media outlets to help people know if what they see is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.
— Meta (@Meta) March 4, 2022
With Russians not being able to connect to their freinds and family via Facebook, or access global content via Netflix and Spotify or monetise their videos via YouTube’s monetisation services, it’s officially a blockade by US tech giants that might plunge Russia into an quivalent or Iran or a China, which has its own version of the internet.
— IGN (@IGN) March 6, 2022
The country could still bank on China for its tech hardware needs but it will need to turn inwards for more inhouse startups that could produce a Netflix or a Spotify kind of service for the domestic market.
Apple Statement on Ukraine CRISIS:
“We have paused all product sales in Russia. Last week, we stopped all exports into our sales channel in the country. Apple Pay and other services have been limited. RT News and Sputnik News are no longer available for download from the App Store outside Russia. And we have disabled both traffic and live incidents in Apple Maps in Ukraine as a safety and precautionary measure for Ukrainian citizens.”
Airbnb has gone a step ahead and started raising funds for Ukrainians. “In the past 48 hours, as we’ve waived our fees for new reservations, we’ve noticed a grassroots movement to book Airbnb listings in Ukraine with the objective of supporting local Hosts.On March 2 and March 3, there were more than 61,000 nights booked in Ukraine around the world, including more than 34,000 nights booked by US guests,” Airbnb said in a statement.
Airbnb is suspending all operations in Russia and Belarus
— Brian Chesky 🇺🇦 (@bchesky) March 4, 2022
However the move by the internet and tech giants will only hurt Russians as Kremlin’s Ministry of Culture has reportedly asked all Russian websites to switch to the local .ru top level domain by March 11, where the country’s government will have a control over its servers.
1/ Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing or trivializing well-documented violent events. We are now removing content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy. https://t.co/TrTnOXtOTU
— YouTubeInsider (@YouTubeInsider) March 11, 2022
The move is obviously not going to be completed by March 11, as its too short a deadline for companies to switch servers but the announcement will only exacerbate the move by Kremlin to make Russia an inward looking digital economy.
#Russia began active preparations for disconnection from the global Internet
No later than March 11, all servers and domains must be transferred to the #Russian zone. In addition, detailed data on the network infrastructure of the sites is being collected. pic.twitter.com/wOCdRqOJej
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 6, 2022
The move might have a large impact on ordinary Russians. About 80% of Russians are connected to the internet and many used Apple Pay and Google Pay to pay for their bus and metro rides. As per Statista, the country had 114 million internet users, in 2019, who will be cut off from the global internet if the stalemate between Kremlin and Ukraine continues for months or years.
It will also impact a large number of startups. Yandex, Russia’s equivalent of Google has already declared that it might default on its debt payments due to the current crisis.