Most of the world has expressed shock at Russia's invasion of Ukraine. As we teeter on a global crisis that could spark a worldwide conflict, there is widespread condemnation of Russia. Microsoft is the latest company to essentially isolate Russia. The company is taking several measures to ensure Russia's links to Microsoft are broken.
While private companies usually stay out of political conflicts, the Ukraine invasion is different. It is n all-out attack on a sovereign state that has already defied numerous international laws and conventions. Russia is likely to face severe ramifications for years to come, but currently tech companies are taking a stance by banning content coming from state sponsored sources.
This week we reported on Russia banning Facebook after the social network blocked content from several sources. Away from tech, Russia – including clubs – has been removed from all professional football competitions. The Olympic Committee as ordered all its sports to ban Russian athletes.
As for Microsoft, it says it has been working with Ukraine from before Russian tanks rolled into the country. Specifically, the company told authorities in the country about a new malware attack known as FoxBlade.
Microsoft has been helping the country provide protection against the attacks. That includes adding the ability to detect FoxBlade to the Microsoft Defender suite. It is worth noting that would likely happen for a new malware anyway, but Microsoft ensured detection was part of Defender within three hours of discovering the malware.
According to the company, attacks on civilian infrastructure like finance, health, and agriculture could mean Russia threat actors are defying the Geneva Convention.
Microsoft is also combatting the spread of misinformation. Russia has been caught in several major lies, such as how many troops it has lost in the war so far. While propaganda misinformation not only tricks people in the west, but is also used to keep people in Russia confused. State media in the country is painting a different picture of the war to its citizens, often showing Ukraine as the aggressor and Russia as a peacekeeping force.
So far, Microsoft has removed content from Russian state-sponsored sources. Microsoft Start – the company's merger of MSN News and Microsoft News – no longer shows content from Russia Today (RT) or Sputnik. On Bing, searches that would normally rank those sources highly are now deranking RT and Sputnik.
On the Microsoft Store, the news app RT operates is no longer available. Both news agencies have also been banned from Microsoft Ads.
Finally, Smith discussed the company's position on its own employees within Russian and Ukraine:
“Like other multinational companies, Microsoft is devoted to the protection of its employees. This is of obvious and vital importance for our employees in Ukraine itself, and it includes ongoing and extraordinary efforts by our teams to help our employees and families, including those who have needed to flee for their lives or safety. It also includes our employees in Russia itself, who did not start this war and should not risk discrimination inside or outside their nation either because of their employer's actions to protect others or the decisions of a government they do not control. We also remain closely focused on support for our employees in the broader region, where we are monitoring the situation closely. As a company, we are always committed to the safe protection of our employees in every country, even when they live on opposite sides of a border marked by conflict.”
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