Shannon Bond

Shannon Bond is a business correspondent at NPR, covering technology and how Silicon Valley's biggest companies are transforming how we live, work and communicate.

Bond joined NPR in September 2019. She previously spent 11 years as a reporter and editor at the Financial Times in New York and San Francisco. At the FT, she covered subjects ranging from the media, beverage and tobacco industries to the Occupy Wall Street protests, student debt, New York City politics and emerging markets. She also co-hosted the FT's award-winning podcast, Alphachat, about business and economics.

Bond has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School and a bachelor's degree in psychology and religion from Columbia University. She grew up in Washington, D.C., but is enjoying life as a transplant to the West Coast.

The alternative social network MeWe had 12 million users at the end of 2020. Barely three weeks into 2021 — and two since a right-wing mob attacked the U.S. Capitol — the company says it's now passed 16 million.

CEO Mark Weinstein says this popularity is a testament to the reason he launched MeWe in 2016 as an alternative to Facebook. MeWe markets itself as privacy forward. It doesn't harness users' data to sell ads or decide what content to show them.

Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET

Willy Solis never saw himself as an activist.

"I'm an introvert, extreme introvert," he said. "That's my nature."

But 2020 changed that — like so many other things.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's district sweeps from the beaches of Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley. Among the two million people she represents are Latino communities hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Many essential workers, many market and pharmacy and food service and restaurant and hotel workers and a lot of health care workers," she said. "So a lot of people just had to go to work."

Updated at 6:32 p.m. ET

When you search on Google, do you get the best results? Or the results that are best for Google?

That question is at the heart of the latest lawsuit to challenge the tech giant's dominance over Internet search and advertising.

On Thursday, a bipartisan group of 38 attorneys general hit Google with the company's third antitrust complaint in less than two months, zeroing in on its role as "the gateway to the Internet."

This week, the Federal Trade Commission and 48 attorneys general unveiled blockbuster lawsuits accusing Facebook of crushing competition and calling for the tech giant to be broken up.

The twin complaints together run to nearly 200 pages documenting how Facebook became so powerful — and how, according to the government, it broke the law along the way.

Kolina Koltai first heard about the coronavirus back in January, but not from newspapers or TV. Instead, she read about it in anti-vaccination groups on Facebook.

"They were posting stories from China like, 'Hey, here's this mysterious illness,' or 'Here's this something that seems to be spreading,'" she said.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

The Federal Trade Commission and 48 attorneys general across the nation filed much-anticipated lawsuits against Facebook on Wednesday, accusing the social media giant of gobbling up competitive threats in a way that has entrenched its popular apps so deeply into the lives of billions of people that rivals can no longer put up a fight.

Facebook is banning claims about COVID-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts, as governments prepare to roll out the first vaccinations against the virus.

That includes posts that make false claims about how safe and effective the vaccines are, and about their ingredients and side effects.

Google illegally fired two employees involved in labor organizing last year, the National Labor Relations Board alleged in a complaint on Wednesday.

The tech giant also violated federal labor law, the agency said, by surveilling employees who viewed a union organizing presentation, interrogating others, unfairly enforcing some rules and maintaining policies that "discourage" workers from protected organizing activities.

Updated at 5:19 p.m. ET

Facebook users saw hate speech about once in every 1,000 pieces of content they viewed on the social network between July and September, the company said on Thursday.

This is the first time Facebook has publicly estimated the prevalence of hate speech on its platform, giving a sense of scale of the problem. It published the new metric as part of its quarterly report on how much content it removed from Facebook and Instagram for breaking rules ranging from violence to child exploitation to suicide and self-harm.

Updated Thursday at 11:02 a.m. ET

More than 200 Facebook workers say the social media company is making content moderators return to the office during the pandemic because the company's attempt to rely more heavily on automated systems has "failed."

Maria Bartiromo, the Fox Business host, declared herself done with Twitter two days after the election.

She tweeted a link to an article that falsely claimed Democrats were trying to steal the election. Twitter hid the post behind a label warning that it contained misleading content. Twitter also notified Bartiromo that someone had complained about her account (even though it did clarify that she had not violated any rules and it was taking no action against her).

For Bartiromo, the label was the last straw.

Twitter said on Thursday that it would maintain some of the changes it had made to slow down the spread of election misinformation, saying they were working as intended.

Before Election Day, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks had announced a cascade of measures billed as protecting the integrity of the voting process.

Twitter said on Thursday it would maintain some changes it had made to slow down the spread of election misinformation, saying they were working as intended.

Before Election Day, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks had announced a cascade of measures billed as protecting the integrity of the voting process.

For Twitter, those included more prominent warning labels on misleading or disputed claims and limiting how such claims can be shared.

Facebook has taken down a network of pages linked to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The seven pages were spreading false claims and conspiracy theories about voter fraud. They collectively had amassed more than 2.45 million followers, according to the activist group Avaaz, which alerted Facebook to the network on Friday.

Facebook removed a group filled with false claims about voter fraud and calls for real-world protests over vote counting that had gained more than 360,000 members since it was created on Wednesday.

California voters handed Uber and Lyft a big victory — and labor unions a big setback — when they approved a measure allowing the ride-hailing companies to keep classifying their drivers as independent contractors.

For Joe Renice, who drives for Uber in San Francisco, the measure's passage was a relief.

"This is a job that I make over $100,000 a year doing. And I have complete and total freedom and flexibility to do that," he said.

Murphy Bannerman first noticed the posts this summer in a Facebook group called Being Black in Arizona.

Someone started posting memes full of false claims that seemed designed to discourage people from voting.

The memes were "trying to push this narrative of, 'The system is a mess and there's no point in you participating,' " Bannerman said. She recalled statements such as, " 'Democrats and Republicans are the same. There's no point in voting.' 'Obama didn't do anything for you during his term, why should you vote for a Democrat this time around?' "

Updated Thursday at 10:55 a.m. ET

Some U.S. hospitals have been hit by coordinated ransomware attacks designed to infect systems for financial gain, federal agencies and a private-sector cybersecurity company warned on Wednesday.

A joint advisory by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI says there is "credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat" to U.S. hospitals and health care providers.

The CEOs of some of the biggest tech platforms defended the way they handle online speech to an audience of skeptical senators, many of whom seemed more interested in scoring political points than engaging with thorny debate over content moderation policies and algorithms.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

All right. As we have noted, we are just one week to go until the official Election Day. That means election season will be over, and it's only at this point that Facebook has decided to put a stop to political ads on its site.

This week could mark the official end of the long love affair between Washington and Silicon Valley.

The U.S. Justice Department and 11 state attorneys general have filed a blockbuster lawsuit against Google, accusing it of being an illegal monopoly because of its stranglehold on Internet search.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google alleging the company of abusing its dominance over smaller rivals by operating like an illegal monopoly. The action represents the federal government's most significant legal action in more than two decades to confront a technology giant's power.

Updated at 9:14 p.m. ET

Facebook and Twitter took action on Wednesday to limit the distribution of New York Post reporting with unconfirmed claims about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, leading President Trump's campaign and allies to charge the companies with censorship.

Updated at 7:05 p.m. ET

Facebook said on Tuesday it will ban anti-vaccination ads, following widespread pressure on the social network to curb harmful content.

Under the new global policy, the company will no longer accept ads discouraging people from getting vaccines; ads that portray vaccines as unsafe or ineffective; or ads claiming the diseases vaccines prevent are harmless.

Updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

Facebook is banning all content that "denies or distorts the Holocaust," in a policy reversal that comes after increased pressure from critics.

Expect to see more prominent warning labels on Twitter that make it harder to see and share false claims about the election and the coronavirus, the company said on Friday.

This is the latest step that Twitter is taking to prevent the spread of deliberate misinformation as voters cast their ballots amid a pandemic. Like Facebook and other social media platforms, Twitter has announced a cascade of new rules to stop a flood of hoaxes and false claims aimed at misleading voters.

Something as simple as changing the font of a message or cropping an image can be all it takes to bypass Facebook's defenses against hoaxes and lies.

Most of the world's smartphones run on Google's Android software. But did Google play fairly when it created that software?

That question is at the heart of a case being argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. It's the culmination of a battle that started 10 years ago, when tech company Oracle first accused Google of illegally copying its code.

Yoel Roth spends a lot of time thinking about what could go wrong on Twitter. It's his job, as the social media company's head of site integrity.

"Having a vivid imagination is key," he told NPR. "None of the threats are off-limits."

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