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US Tech Firms Under Pressure To Take Hard Stance On Russia



Twitter logo seen on the smartphone screen and blurred flag of Russia on the back | US Tech Firms Under Pressure To Take Hard Stance On Russia | featured

Major US tech firms are under growing pressure to help isolate Russia further. Ukraine and other sympathetic nations are calling on companies to take action against Russia. This includes US tech firms that own the world’s most popular phones, apps, and social platforms.

RELATED: Will Economic Sanctions Work Against Russia This Time?

Russian Censors Limiting Information on Twitter

A drawn Russian flag with the text of the sanctions on a black background | Russian Censors Limiting Information on Twitter

Meanwhile, some firms are reporting that Russian censors are restricting social access. This is especially true for groups opposed to the war with Ukraine.

Many Russian protesters are going on social media to express their views. They are also using platforms to organize protests.

Last Saturday, a Twitter corporate account said Russian censors are restricting access. It did not specify if the government gave a reason for doing so.

“We believe people should have free and open access to the Internet,” the tweet said. It is said that access remains particularly important during times of crisis. 

Russia-Ukraine War Forcing Tech Firms To Examine Their Positions

Tech companies position themselves as avenues of free expression, especially for repressed individuals or groups. This stance is now getting heavy scrutiny as pro-Ukraine activism is rising fever-pitch on the Internet.

Many supporters are now petitioning US tech firms to impose a harder line on Russia. This is ironic considering that Moscow is famous for using social media platforms to influence political events across the world. 

In particular, Ukraine’s digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov, sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook last week. He called on Apple to stop supplying products and services to Russia, including access to Apple’s App Store.

Fedorov suggested that this can help convince younger Russians to “proactively stop the disgraceful military aggression”. He added that Ukraine needs modern technology support, which is the answer to tanks, rockets, and missiles. 

Ukraine Calling on Tech Firms To Suspend Services in Russia

In addition, Fedorov also asked Meta (owner of Facebook), Alphabet (owner of Google and YouTube), and Netflix to suspend services in Russia.

He also asked the companies, especially YouTube, to block propagandists' Russian channels. YouTube already said that they are preventing some Russian channels from monetizing their content.

Also, some Twitter users called attention to a YouTube channel sharing the Ukrainian military’s troop movements. 

According to YouTube spokesman Farshad Shadloo, the company will pause monetizing activities for some Russian channels. In addition, they will limit access to retweets and other channels in Ukraine.

Karen Kornbluh, director at thinktank agency The German Marshall Fund, said tech firms need to step up. “There is a growing sense they have a moral obligation to ensure their sites are not exploited at a time of crisis.” 

Congress Wants Social Platforms To Assume A “Heightened Posture”

Meanwhile, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. He called on Twitter and Meta to  “assume a heightened posture.”

This will help counter misinformation operations linked to Russia. Warner warns that Russia will escalate its covert operations and promote disinformation.  

Watch the WION new video reporting that social media giant Facebook prohibits Russian state media ads amid the Ukraine crisis:

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Also, will cut off access to popular social platforms affect Russian citizens? Will they oppose their government’s current stance against Ukraine?

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