Philanthropic deeds and Big Tech: How are the likes of Netflix, Apple, and Facebook responding to the pandemic and do we like them more for it?
Coronavirus has been gripping the world for several months now and it seems to have an impact on everything, from schools, work and social lives to fuel prices, politics and the stock market. Yet there are some positives too. Many of the Big Tech companies are making very concerted efforts and donations to help keep people safe and sane.
With documentaries such as ‘Pandemic’ and thrillers like ‘Outbreak’, there are enough titles to keep my inner masochist happy. Whilst streaming services, in general, have been forced to halt productions on new shows, Netflix has a handy stockpile ready and waiting to tide us over.
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) additionally announced that they would reduce overall streaming quality by 25% across Europe in order to give Internet Service Providers relief from increased online traffic. Since then, the likes of Alphabet-owned (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) have joined Netflix in this decision, whilst Disney (NYSE: DIS) delayed its streaming service launch in France by 2 weeks.
In normal circumstances, many people would be put off by such measures, but Netflix’s market value has continued to rise throughout this month, with its stock rising 16% this quarter. Plus, the handy Chrome extension, Netflix Party (although not produced by Netflix) will continue to keep people isolated yet connected during a romcom movie night.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away and so it seems that Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) has raised the bar when it comes to good deeds during this health crisis. Along with reducing bandwidth demands for Apple TV+, it is producing a plethora of content to provide trusted and well-sourced information about COVID-19 in order to prevent misinformation. This includes a podcast, a new Oprah-led TV show, and news reports.
If experiencing hardship, users of the Apple card can now file for an assistance program that allows them to miss their March payments without being charged interest. Additionally, it has donated up to $15 million to help those sick with coronavirus and has made several donations to Italy.
The iPhone maker, along with the likes of Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) have all donated tens of millions of surgical masks to healthcare workers around the world. Even amidst the fallout that Apple experienced during the Chinese lockdown, it continued to help its customers and those who need it around the world. In the future people will be more trusting of Apple as a company that responds well to global emergencies.
It seems coronavirus can bring out the best in people and even Facebook can begin to look a little rosier. Despite the trust issues that Facebook has experienced in recent years and the failure of its cryptocurrency plan, Facebook has stepped up with large resources to help those in need during this turbulent time.
Along with Apple, Google, Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Facebook is tackling misinformation by working with fact-checkers and governments. It has committed to removing ads for hand sanitizer, facemasks, and COVID-19 test kits whilst ‘limiting harmful information’. By providing helpful information and connecting people to health services Facebook gets a ‘Like’ from me.
As of today, Facebook has also pledged more than $100 million to local news outlets and $1 million to the international fact-checking network. In addition to the $20 million pledged to help with the relief work across the globe, Facebook is playing a large role in monetary aid. It is even providing grants to small businesses in up to 30 different countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
I still wouldn’t trust Zuckerberg to make me a mug of tea without noting down my hot beverage habits and selling them to a 3rd party, yet there does seem to be some good coming out of Facebook during this latest episode of ‘Stranger Things’ in which I seem to now be a character.
It is really positive to see big corporations taking the lead in philanthropic acts. However, I do believe tackling misinformation and donating money to healthcare services is the least they can do. For companies that possess such rich resources, I would be careful not to fall for a ‘corona-washing’ PR campaign. But that is enough doom and gloom right now, taken at face value, the actions were taken by Netflix, Apple and Facebook have indeed brought some good into the world.
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