Cloud Wars logo with text, Tech's Response to COVID-19 - Google and misinformation
Cloud Wars logo with text, Tech's Response to COVID-19 - Google and misinformation

Google’s COVID-19 Response: Free Video-Conferencing, Crackdown on Exploitative Ads

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(Part 3 of an ongoing series on efforts by major tech firms to support and engage with employees, customers and communities. Read Part 1 and Part 2.)

 

As billions of people across the globe seek current and credible information while also adapting to working from home, Google and Google Cloud have launched several initiatives to help mitigate the disruptive impact of COVID-19.

In a blog post dated March 6 outlining some of the company’s efforts, Google CEO Sundar Pichai offered this prescient perspective: “This is an unprecedented moment. It’s important that we approach it with a sense of calm and responsibility—because we have many people counting on us.”

Here’s a quick synopsis of those efforts and then I’ll offer a bit more detail on some of these:

  • ensuring the resiliency and reliability of its global systems;
  • for G Suite customers, free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities;
  • an SOS Alert in Search taking people to the latest news and safety tips;
  • stepping up efforts to block virus-related misinformation and ads seeking to capitalize on the current crisis;
  • boosting YouTube’s ability to support greater volumes of live-streaming; and
  • providing $25 million in ad credits to the World Health Organization and government agencies for COVID-19 messaging.
For G Suite customers, access to free video conferencing until July 1

According to Google, “We are rolling out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally including: 

  • Larger meetings, for up to 250 participants per call
  • Live-streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain 
  • The ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive”
Rigorously screening content within YouTube and Google Ads

“On YouTube, we are working to quickly remove any content that claims to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment,” Pichai’s blog post states. “On Google Ads we are blocking all ads capitalizing on the coronavirus, and we’ve blocked tens of thousands of ads over the last six weeks. We are also helping WHO and government organizations run PSA ads.”

A phone app monitoring body temperatures for elderly people

“Verily is developing a small, body-worn temperature patch that transmits data to a phone application to provide timely notification of fever and support earlier diagnosis and treatment of a viral infection like the flu or coronavirus. This could be especially useful in elderly populations, where viral infections have higher rates of morbidity and mortality.”

Google Cloud working with governments to connect with citizens

“Google Cloud continues to work with federal, state and local governments to help them connect with citizens and returning travelers from impacted regions. For example, in Singapore, Google Cloud worked with the government to implement a chat bot on their website that helps answer citizens’ most common questions.”

Disclosure: at the time of this writing, Google Cloud was among the many clients of Evans Strategic Communications LLC and/or Cloud Wars Media LLC.

 

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