Canva seriously criticized for continuing to operate in Russia

The Australian tech giant was hit by controversy with Ukrainians in Australia who denounced the company for being “unprincipled”.

Graphic design company Canva has faced severe criticism for still operating in Russia, as it became the only Australian company to earn the worst possible ranking on a global company’s response list to the invasion of Ukraine.

The tracker, run by US University Yale, found that nearly 1,000 companies had announced plans to cut operations to some extent beyond the minimum required by legal penalties.

The Yale tracker originally marked Canva with an “F” rating stating that it was “delving into” the offering of its services, but after public outrage, the tech company clarified its position by sending its ranking to a “C” .

This means it was still providing services to Russia but had suspended payments, according to Yale’s tracker.

Canva, which boasts over 60 million active users and is worth at least $ 37 billion, said it suspended payments to and from Russia on March 1, donated $ 1 million to donors and organizations. Ukrainian charities and also directed users to his and anti-war models ”.

Canva’s chief of communications, Lachlan Andrew, said The Guardians the company wanted to use its reach – with 1.4 million Russian users – to “promote truth and accurate information.”

But Ukrainian expatriate and software engineer Uvi Levitski, who now lives in Australia, is part of an informal group that has been monitoring the actions of companies following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He described Canva’s action as “inconsistent” with what the group believed should be a “company ethical response” and were “shocked” by the company’s “unprincipled stance”.

Canva said its decision not to withdraw its software entirely from Russia was to allow users to design anti-war protest images, but Levitski said most Russians supported the war.

“It would not be unreasonable to assume that, in the absence of any moderation of private content, the amount of pro-war material made with Canva by users in Russia will similarly exceed anti-war material, thus disproportionately benefiting the already all-powerful machine. propaganda of the Kremlin “, said a Guardians.

“And that also means ignoring the fact that public opposition to the war has actually been criminalized and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.”

This was also said by another leader of the Australian Ukrainian community who wanted to remain anonymous The Sydney Morning Heraldthat leaving Russia would be a “minor inconvenience” for Canva and put other companies under pressure.

“For Canva, as an iconic Australian company, this adorable unicorn who is all soft and fluffy and claims to be driven by pure ideals, leaving Russia is of paramount importance to us for this company,” he told the newspaper.

McDonald’s announced Monday that it will completely exit the Russian market and sell its 850 branches in the increasingly isolated country.

Mr. Levitski had also hit Canva’s March 4 blog post written by co-founder Cliff Obrecht, which he described as “weakly worded” as he didn’t mention the word “invasion” or “war,” instead describing the situation as “illegal and reckless assaults”.

Following public outrage, Canva updated its blog post Wednesday stating that the company was “strongly opposed to the ongoing war in Ukraine and strongly condemned Russia’s continuing and illegal acts of aggression.”

He said his pro-peace models have been used more than 275,000 times since the war began and he saw “no evidence of using Canva for the wrong reason,” but he continued to monitor the situation.

Other Australian companies have also appeared on the Yale list, but with much more favorable ratings.

Tech giant Atlassian, founded by Australians Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, which had its collapse of the share price around 60% since November have obtained a “B” rating, which means that they have temporarily reduced almost all or most of their trades. Atlassian has suspended software sales in Russia.

Energy company Viva also scored the same as it suspended purchases of Russian oil.

Companies that achieved an “A” rating – recognized for making Russian commitments or for leaving the country entirely – included Qantas, mining giant Rio Tinto, and the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

Originally published as Canva seriously criticized for continuing to operate in Russia