As the world grapples with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Google is working around the clock to provide support through products, defend against cybersecurity threats, and ensure the availability of reliable, authoritative information.
We are taking extraordinary measures to stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online.
As Google President of Global Affairs Kent Walker wrote on 1 March, this war is both a tragedy and a humanitarian disaster in the making. Together, Google.org and Google employees are contributing $15 million (€13.5 million) in donations and in-kind support to aid relief efforts in Ukraine. Google is also contributing $5 million (€4.5 million) in advertising credits to trusted humanitarian and intergovernmental organisations.
“In this extraordinary crisis, we are taking extraordinary measures to stop the spread of misinformation and disrupt disinformation campaigns online,” Walker wrote. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional actions as needed — and we join the international community in expressing sincere hope for a return to a peaceful and sovereign Ukraine.”
YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik have been blocked across Europe. There is also an indefinite pause on the monetisation of Russian state-funded media across Google’s platforms. Media outlets such as RT are not allowed to monetise their content or advertise on Google’s platforms.
Recommendations for Russian state-funded media outlets have also been significantly limited. YouTube has removed hundreds of channels and thousands of videos for violating its Community Guidelines. At the same time, Google’s systems are prominently surfacing and prioritising information from authoritative news sources.
Operating Google’s services
Walker noted that Google is committed to complying with all sanctions. That may lead to products like Google Pay becoming unavailable in certain countries. Most services, like Search, Maps, and YouTube, remain available in Russia.
At the same time, Google continues to monitor and address Russia-backed hacking and influence operations. While Walker notes that there have not been meaningful changes in the levels of malicious activity in the region, the Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has seen threat actors refocus their efforts on Ukrainian targets.
Google account security protections were automatically increased, Walker said. The Advanced Protection Programme — which delivers Google’s highest level of security — is protecting the accounts of hundreds of high-risk users in Ukraine. And “Project Shield,” a service providing free unlimited protection against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, is protecting over 100 Ukrainian websites, including local news services.
“Our security teams are on call 24/7,” Walker said. “Russia-backed hacking and influence operations are not new to us; we’ve been taking action against them for years. Over the past 12 months alone, we’ve issued hundreds of government-backed attack warnings to people in Ukraine using products like Gmail. We’ve been particularly vigilant during the invasion and our products will continue to automatically detect and block suspicious activity.”