Amazon and Meta Platforms are ramping up efforts in support of Ukraine, with Amazon’s measures including pulling the plug on Prime Video and shipments in Russia.
The companies join a host of corporations who have taken steps to either leave Russia or stop doing business with the country in the wake of its invasion of neighboring Ukraine. (Discovery and WarnerMedia today announced a pause in activity there.) The attack two weeks ago set off the most significant on-the-ground fighting in Europe since World War II, with Russia increasingly isolated and subject to harsh economic sanctions.
For the tech sector, the war has forced a rethink of a years-long laissez-faire stance that enabled misinformation and misdeeds related to Russia to spread for years. Twitter, YouTube, Apple, Netflix and others have all taken steps to pull back from the region. Observers have likened the situation to the corporate exodus from South Africa over apartheid, only in a matter of days instead of years.
In a blog post late Tuesday, Amazon said it had suspended shipment of retail products to customers based in Russia and Belarus. It also said it will no longer take new Russia and Belarus-based customers of its web services business, or any third-party sellers from those territories. In addition to suspending access to Prime Video for customers based in Russia, it is no longer be taking orders for New World, the only video game it sells directly in Russia. The company has also donated $5 million to those affected by the invasion, which has forced more than 2 million refugees to flee Ukraine.
“As a reminder, unlike some other U.S. technology providers, Amazon and AWS have no data centers, infrastructure, or offices in Russia, and we have a long-standing policy of not doing business with the Russian government,” the company added.
Meta, whose flagship social network, Facebook, was banned last week by the Russian government, has added new mental health tips and resources in response to the crisis. Information from the World Health Organization, International Medical Corps and UNICEF has been added to the Emotional Health Center on Facebook. The resources will be available globally in Ukrainian, Russian and English, with the goal of offering guidance to users about coping with stress and how to support children.
About $30 million has been raised on Facebook and Instagram for more than 1,500 non-profits, according to a rep for Meta.
The tech giant’s chief spokesman, Nick Clegg, said last week that without Facebook, “millions of ordinary Russians would find themselves cut off from reliable information” as well as their family and friends. They would also be unable to speak out, Clegg also warned.
A report today in Bloomberg took note of Russians appearing to pursue work-arounds to the country’s sweeping ban of foreign internet content. Providers of virtual private networks, or VPNs, are seeing a surge of interest. One company said traffic to its site from Russia jumped more than four-fold compared with a week ago.
Even those users, however, could be at risk of imprisonment under a harsh new law passed by the Kremlin, which aims to suppress “fake news” about the military campaign or sanctions.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.