Big Tech Benefits From COVID-19

As more people work from home, the pandemic has deepened reliance on services from the technology industry’s biggest companies while accelerating trends that were already benefiting them. Amazon is hiring 100,000 warehouse workers to meet surging demand. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said traffic for video calling and messaging had exploded. Microsoft said the numbers using its software for online collaboration had climbed nearly 40 percent in a week.

As people around the world are staying at home for weeks and cinemas close under government orders, Netflix and YouTube are gaining a new audience.

Where they once had been loath to intervene in matters of fact, suddenly Facebook and Twitter were prominently featuring links to high-quality information from the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization in their respective feeds and search results.

The demand by businesses and organisations for renting computing resources from Amazon, Microsoft and Google is likely to speed up as millions of employees are forced to work from home, putting a strain on corporate technology infrastructures.

Beyond profit, the technology giants are recruiting their resources for the benefit of the global fight against the pandemic.

  • Apple donated 10 million face masks for medical teams and will match every donation by an Apple employee.Facebook promises to donate $20 million for fighting the virus. The company offers free advertisement of public information and will invest $100 million in small businesses.
  • Google promises to match donations to the foundation of the World Health Organisation, up to $5 million. 
  • Amazon announced that it will invest a considerable part of its resources in order to ensure vital product delivery and support healthcare services supply needs. The company is establishing a $25 million fund dedicated to supporting subcontractors and delivery services. In addition, they are offering business owners whose work was halted a scholarship equal to a two-week salary, between $400-5000.
  • Microsoft is offering businesses its team management software for free for six months. The company promised to continue paying full salaries to subcontractors on its campuses, restaurants, maintenance, security employees.  The company is donating $1 million to coronavirus relief funds.But the virus has also brought new challenges to industry. 

Social media companies have nontheless been been struggling to crack down on a wave of misinformation on their platforms, including conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus and misleading health information.

I-HLS:      Guardian:     The Verge:         The Hill:         Image: public domain knolescape

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