Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's deputy prime minister of Digital Transformation, wants tech companies to sever ties with Russia. Fittingly, he’s using tech to call on them to take action.
Fedorov has taken to Twitter over the past couple of weeks to press Apple, Google, crypto exchanges and other tech companies to respond to the war in Ukraine. He told BBC that platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Telegram have helped him communicate, but Twitter has emerged as an effective way “to counter Russian military aggression.”
“It's our smart and peaceful tool to destroy Russian economy," he said.
Fedorov's strategy looks like this: He will write to company leaders, then tweet a photo of his letter. If a tech company responds to his request, he’ll usually tweet that too. It’s hard to say if his tweets alone have influenced tech companies, but Fedorov has a track record of getting some tech leaders to meet his wishes.
Here’s a look at how companies and platforms have acquiesced (or not) to his calls to action.
Platforms and companies that have met Fedorov’s demands
Netflix: On Feb. 26, Fedorov called on the streaming platform to block Russian access and shut down Russian content. Netflix announced two days later that it wouldn’t add Russian channels to its service, and on March 6, it suspended its service in Russia.
SAP and Oracle: On March 2, Fedorov tweeted a letter that asked Oracle to halt business in Russia and SAP to stop providing its products and services there. Oracle said it will suspend operations and SAP said it will pause sales that day. Fedorov wasn’t entirely satisfied with SAP’s response. He tweeted again to call on the company to stop supporting SAP products in Russia.
YouTube: On Feb. 26, Fedorov said he contacted the platform about blocking “propagandist” Russian channels. Later that day, YouTube disabled the monetization of Russia Today channels. On March 1, the platform blocked Russian state-controlled channels in Europe.
Companies and platforms that have not met Fedorov’s demands
Apple: On Feb. 25, Fedorov tweeted a letter addressed to Tim Cook asking him to block the App Store for Russian citizens. Apple blocked RT and Sputnik from the App Store outside Russia but did not block Russian access to the App Store. Experts have said, though, that cutting off access to the App Store could make it harder for Russians to stay informed and coordinate potential anti-war efforts.
Google: Fedorov also pressed Google to block access to Google Play. The company has stopped selling ads in the country, and Alphabet kicked RT and Sputnik off Google Play, but the company stopped short of blocking access to its app store entirely.
Apple Music and Spotify: Fedorov asked the two platforms to allow artists to change their album covers to call attention to the war. The two haven’t responded to that request, at least not publicly.
Meta: On Feb. 26, Fedorov said he wrote to Meta pressing the company to block Russian access to Facebook and Instagram. On March 1, the company said it will offer encrypted Instagram DMs in Russia and Ukraine and demote Facebook posts from users who link to Russian state media, but it stopped short of restricting access for Russians. Instead, Russia cut off access to Facebook.
Figma: On March 5, Fedorov asked Figma to stop providing its services in Russia. The company hasn’t responded, at least not publicly, to the demand.