Google explains how it is helping in Ukraine

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Google’s president of global affairs, Kent Walker, has detailed the various ways in which the company is offering support to the people of Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

The announcement comes after Microsoft made a public declaration of support for the Ukrainian nation and condemned the actions of Russia. Google is offering not only financial support, but also helping to improve security, safety and the dissemination of trustworthy information about the unfolding situation in the country.

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In terms of financial aid, Google and its employees have donated $15 million to help with relief efforts in Ukraine. The company is also offering free ad credit to the tune of $5 million for humanitarian and governmental organizations to use to get in touch with people who need assistance.

There have been concerns that information available on mapping services could be exploited to locate groups of people, and it is with this in mind that Google is taking steps with Search and Maps in Ukraine. The company says:

We’ve 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. We’re working with expert organizations to source helpful humanitarian information as the situation unfolds.

And after consulting with multiple sources on the ground, including local authorities, we’ve temporarily disabled some live Google Maps features in Ukraine, including the traffic layer and information about how busy places are, to help protect the safety of local communities and their citizens. We’ve also added information on refugee and migrant centers in neighboring countries.

Google is also increasing its efforts to fight back again Russian hacking groups, and is boosting account security for customers in Ukraine.

The company is also taking steps to help prevent the spread of misinformation:

In this extraordinary crisis we are taking extraordinary measures to stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online.

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

We have also significantly limited recommendations globally for a number of Russian state-funded media outlets across our 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.

Of course we are working to not just reduce the reach of unreliable information, but also to make reliable and trustworthy information readily available. Our systems are built to prioritize the most authoritative information in moments of crisis and rapidly-changing news. When people around the world search for topics related to the war in Ukraine on Search or YouTube, our systems prominently surface information, videos and other key context from authoritative news sources.

You can read the full blog post here.

Image credit: Anjo ten Kate / Shutterstock

Author: Martha Meyer