In the ongoing global battle against the coronavirus pandemic, everyone has a part to play. Organizations have been affected massively but have been coming together to provide support to their customers, employees, and other businesses. But what are the ‘Big Tech’ coronavirus contributions, and are they helping or hurting society?
Private Sector Donations For COVID-19 Relief
The private sector has been uniting to back healthcare and government organizations so they can cope better with the global coronavirus pandemic, and U.S.’ Big Tech’ companies are no exception.
1. What is 'Big Tech'?
The term ‘Big Tech’ is used to describe the leading information technology companies in the industry.
The top five most valuable public companies in the world are currently Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. Between them, they generate a market capitalization of over $4.5 trillion.
No more are the giants from the energy industry, like Exxon Mobil and BP. Instead, these colossal tech companies exert great power on society and have influenced millions of lives during these tough times.
2. Big Tech' coronavirus' Donations - The Big Five
Google has provided over $856m in total across all areas:
$575m to small businesses, including investing in NGOs and financial organizations which help small businesses and cash grants.
$270m in healthcare, including $250m in ad grants to the WHO and other government agencies.
$5m in relief efforts and donations matched for COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund (SRF), co-created by the UN Foundation and the WHO. So far, it has raised over $127m.
They have also pledged to speed up the production of 3million masks for the CDC Foundation.
In addition, Google has partnered with Apple to create a secure and private contact-tracing tool to aid public health authorities.
Facebook is ripe with poorly-vetted information, which, at this time, can cause detrimental effects on people’s health and security.
On the plus side, any trustworthy news can spread easily and quickly via their platform. Facebook has allocated $2 million in funding towards fact-checking and to support local media outlets.
Facebook has provided $248 million in total across all areas:
$100 million in grant programs to small businesses, not just in the U.S but across 30 countries and up to 30,000 businesses.
$103 million total for the media and news, the majority for supporting publishers who are suffering from declining ad revenues.
$25 million for frontline healthcare workers and $10 million to the SRF.
Amazon has been essential during this era of lockdowns and social distancing. As people can’t get what they need from stores, they are ordering online, so for this e-commerce organization, they have seen a considerable increase in orders.
Amazon has given over $98 million in total:
This includes $20 million to speed up COVID-19 research for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Diagnostic Development Initiative.
A $5.5 million relief fund for more than 400 small businesses in Seattle, where the organization was established.
Additionally, Amazon has raised its employees’ pay-rates and given 800 laptops to public schools in the Seattle area.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, personally donated $100 million in April to the non-profit food bank Feeding America.
Microsoft has donated $27.5 million in total.
They donated $6.5 million in cash and tech support for China’s fight against the virus.
Other donations were for healthcare and relief efforts.
This may seem like a low amount, yet Microsoft is focusing its financial endeavors towards its ‘AI for Health’ program.
Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, has officially stepped off the board of Microsoft in mid-March to focus on philanthropic efforts.
The Gates Foundation has put a staggering $100 million in funds for coronavirus research and even plans to fund billions of more dollars for vaccine development and manufacturing research.
Apple is supporting relief efforts in various countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
They have donated a total of $22 million so far and have also donated 20 million masks to healthcare workers as well as committing to manufacturing 1 million face shields each week.
Together, Apple and Microsoft have contributed $2 million to the SRF.
3. Helping or Hurting?
Do we now live in a world where we can’t live day-to-day without the digital world created by the five biggest tech companies?
Do these Big Tech companies invade our privacy and assert their market power on us?
Is there now too much inappropriate content available and ‘free speech.’
What they do offer, on the other hand, is cheap or even free services to consumers. In the current environment, they have enabled families and friends to remain in contact, boosting their popularity.
Whether you believe what you read or not, people have been able to find consistent and trustworthy news during the pandemic.
These fiscal efforts are the only actions being taken by the ‘top five’ tech companies in question. Many of them are building crucial educational and data-driven technological solutions to help alleviate the COVID-19 situation as it unfolds.
As social distancing guidelines force people to work from home, and people are socializing online through various tech platforms, ‘Big Tech’ has a lot to gain from the current situation. Cynics might say their donations are a ploy to combat their bad reputation in the media. So, have they done enough to lend a helping hand?
Some people might contend that $1.25 billion in donations is just a drop in the ocean, at least for these five. Looking at Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, he has pledged a staggering $1 billion of his own money for education and relief efforts, almost matching that of the top five Big Techs.
However, no one can deny that technology is playing an enormous role in tracking COVID-19 and the progress we’re all making to end it.
What are your views on Big Tech and are they doing enough? Please comment below.