How Tech Companies Are Responding to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Maidan, Kiev, Ukraine | Image Courtesy - Silver Ringvee
Maidan, Kiev, Ukraine | Image Courtesy - Silver Ringvee

UPDATE: Meta has demoted links to Russian media on Facebook and Instagram. Content shared by Russian state media will stop being recommended on users feeds globally.

Meta will label Russian media affiliated with the government on both Facebook and Instagram.

Vladimir Putin, the Russin president declared in a long speech that he chose war and ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Thursday. Russia began by launching cyberattacks targeting Ukrainian government departments. Missiles and troops were then sent across its borders.

World leaders and organisations like the EU and NATO have condemned the attacks with anti-war protests erupting across the globe to demonstrate against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine is a tech hub in itself with major tech companies based in the country including Grammarly, Ajax, Preply, Reface, Readdle, Clean my Mac, SparkMail, among a host of other startups.

“While we hope for the best, we have also prepared for the worst. That includes having contingency plans for various scenarios, along with financial and logistical assistance to better support our team members and their families in getting to safety,” said Brad Hoover, Grammarly CEO.

“No amount of reassurance supersedes intrinsic fear, I am concerned for their safety,” said Kevin Stephens, Canvas CEO with regards to the contract workers it hires from Ukraine.

Facebook is employing the same tactics it used for users in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over.

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Facebook shared that they have set up a Special Operations Center with native speakers to “closely monitor the situation and act as fast as possible.”

To protect user data in case their data centre gets compromised, Cloudflare has removed all Cloudflare customer cryptographic material from servers in Ukraine.

Facebook is rolling out a new feature for users in Ukraine that lets them lock their account so that unknown people(people not on their friend’s list) will not be able to download, share their profile photos or see posts in their timeline.

The social network has also removed the ability to view and search the “Friends” list for users. To be honest this feature should roll out to everyone at this point.

Facebook: Tips To Protect Your Privacy and Help You Stay Secure

They’re also rolling out pop-up alerts on Instagram with instructions about protecting their accounts.

Instagram: Tips To Protect Your Privacy and Help You Stay Secure

Twitter is also encouraging users in Ukraine to use security features like multi-factor authentication.

The tech company is also asking users to disable their location too.

Twitter: Tips To Protect Your Privacy and Help You Stay Secure

Bad actors are now taking to TikTok livestreams to scam users following the anti-war protests with doctored footage and recycled content and then asking for monetary donations.

TikTok has said that they’re taking action on content or behaviour that threatens the safety of their platform, including removing content that contains harmful misinformation and will continue to monitor and dedicate resources to the situation as it evolves.

Uber has paused operations in Ukraine and their cross-functional team will be watching the situation and restoring service as soon as it is safe to do so.

They have offered their Kyiv-based employees and their immediate families temporary and voluntary relocation to other parts of Ukraine or other countries.

Disnformation Dilemma

The ongoing invasion has put social platforms in a disinformation dilemma. Social networks have been caught between removing content that incites violence and preserving evidence of human rights abuses and war crimes potentially.

Protocol’s Issie Lapowsky argues that there should be an international framework set to reconcile this conundrum and I frankly agree.

This is a developing story and we’ll update with responses from other tech giants including Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others

Privacy Changes You Need to Make Right Now

Articles in this stream

Here’s how to protect your privacy and stay secure on: