Episodes
A proposed law in Australia would require Facebook and Google to pay publishers for news content that appears on their sites. In response, Facebook briefly pulled all links to news content in Australia last week, restoring them Monday. Google opposed the law but has negotiated deals with individual publishers. And Microsoft, pushing its search engine Bing, surprisingly welcomed the proposal, even saying Europe should adopt something similar. But fundamentally, paying for links is the opposite...
Published 02/24/21
The Senate will hold a hearing Tuesday investigating the SolarWinds hacks. SolarWinds is a massive IT company that contracted with the federal government. Its ubiquity let hackers get into at least nine federal agencies, including the departments of — just to pick three of the scariest options — Defense, Homeland Security and Treasury. The breach is what’s known as a supply chain hack. They’re increasingly common because it’s hard for companies and governments to verify the security of every...
Published 02/23/21
Etsy has added at least 1 million new sellers to its platform since the pandemic began. We’ll find out the latest numbers when the company reports earnings this week. One of those new sellers is Amy Price. She’s a Broadway costume designer, or at least she was when Broadway shows were running. Now, she’s turned her stitching to face masks. As part of our series “My Economy,” here’s the story of how Price got an online business up and running.
Published 02/22/21
We’ve talked about how the accomplishments of Black inventors were literally left out of the history books documenting the early internet. Now, Meghan McCarty Carino speaks to researchers who are preserving that history. In late 2019, archivists from Stanford University met with over a dozen Black engineers and entrepreneurs who had been working in the tech industry for decades to hear their stories.
Published 02/19/21
Platforms like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash emerged big winners from the 2020 election when California voters approved Proposition 22. The ballot measure keeps gig workers classified as independent contractors, rather than employees who qualify for full benefits and protections, including the right to join a union. It had looked like gig companies were ready to take this playbook to other states to basically create their own labor laws at the ballot box. But now, we’re seeing signals the companies...
Published 02/18/21
The dating app Bumble swiped right on its initial public stock offering last week, making its CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, the youngest female CEO to take a company public. Not only that, but eight of the company’s 11 board members also identify as women. And that has more than just symbolic power. Bumble has styled itself a women-first dating app. The platform encourages them to send the first message. It also moderates the photos on profiles and the ones sent through direct messages so users...
Published 02/17/21
Colby College is a private, liberal arts school located in southern Maine. You can take classes in art history, chemistry, music, all the staples, and now the school is adding artificial intelligence to the list. Colby is among the first liberal arts colleges to create an artificial intelligence institute to teach students about AI and machine learning through the lenses of subjects like history, gender studies and biology. This, of course, comes as the world is grappling with ethics and AI...
Published 02/16/21
The Biden administration has made tackling climate change a priority, and a big element of the business story around climate change is risk, to cities, states and countries, to businesses and the banks that invest in all of them. Some regulatory bodies, like the European Central Bank, require climate risk assessment. It’s possible the Federal Reserve may eventually as well. Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood speaks with Emilie Mazzacurati, who runs the climate data firm Four Twenty Seven, which...
Published 02/15/21
We learned this week that a hacker tried to poison the water supply in a town outside Tampa, Florida. An operator at the plant noticed the intrusion, and there was no significant damage done to the city’s water supply. But the thing is, a lot of our critical infrastructure is connected to the internet, and not all of it is very secure. Molly speaks with Nicole Perlroth, who covers cybersecurity for The New York Times and is the author of the new book “This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends:...
Published 02/12/21
Arguably, the biggest problem with Big Tech is, well, the bigness. A few giant companies gobble up their competition, own the digital advertising and web hosting markets, control the information ecosystem and sometimes control their own rivals’ distribution. So far, though, these worries haven’t led to regulation. Molly speaks with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who leads the subcommittee on antitrust and has introduced a bill intended to check the power of tech giants. It focuses mostly on...
Published 02/11/21
When New York University media and culture professor Charlton McIlwain was doing research for his latest book, “Black Software,” he found an encyclopedia about Black inventors, written by Black authors. And it actually said that there wasn’t evidence Black people had made tangible contributions to the development of the internet. But McIlwain says that written history ignores decades of Black culture online, including AfroNet, an invite-only bulletin board in the late ’80s, that became a...
Published 02/10/21
We’ve been talking this week about the digital divide in Indian Country. Reservations lag way behind the rest of the country in terms of access to high-speed internet, but the CARES Act created a billion-dollar fund to help tribes build their own networks. Molly speaks with Matthew Rantanen, director of technology at the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, which runs a wireless network that provides service to 19 tribes near San Diego. He said that $1 billion will help, but the...
Published 02/09/21
In Indian Country, the proportion of households with high-speed internet access has consistently lagged behind the rest of the U.S. There has been some work to improve things. An influx of federal funding has helped some tribes build their own broadband networks across the country. Here’s a success story from Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton, part of our series “The Internet Is Everything.”
Published 02/08/21
Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, announced this week that he’s going to become executive chairman of the company, and the new CEO in July will be Andy Jassy, now the head of Amazon Web Services. Amazon is 26 years old and obviously is massive and has ideas to do everything from package delivery and television production to smart microwaves and artificial intelligence. And its huge and incredibly profitable cloud business. Amazon’s ambition and reach are legendary. But with Bezos taking...
Published 02/05/21
For Black History Month, we’re looking at the history of Blackness on the internet. Through most of that history, Black women in particular have been disproportionately harassed and abused. And then ignored when they tried to report that abuse or point out how tech might be misused to further oppress people online and offline. Ignored by tech companies and, it must be said, by journalists, too. Researcher and writer Sydette Harry wrote about this in Wired in a piece called “Listening to Black...
Published 02/04/21
Facebook last month announced it will stop recommending political and civic Groups to its users. The company said users want less politics in their feeds, and it has said it didn’t realize how much its Groups were spreading medical misinformation, were being used to radicalize people into QAnon and that they had become one of the home bases for the planners of the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. But this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the company has had internal research for...
Published 02/03/21
A key part of adapting to climate change is prediction. In Louisiana, where water is eroding huge chunks of land every year, that means looking at how increasingly dangerous hurricanes move water and sand, and which areas might flood and which won’t. Monday we talked with Dutch scientists who make computer models that help make those predictions. The Water Institute of the Gulf is a research organization based in Baton Rouge that uses those Dutch models to mitigate erosion. Molly speaks with...
Published 02/02/21
Justin Ehrenwerth thinks a lot about where to put dirt. He leads the Water Institute of the Gulf, a nonprofit research group based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And one of the reasons he cares so much about dirt is that Louisiana is losing a lot of it. That means when Ehrenwerth and his team happen upon a mountain of dirt, they use computer models to figure out where the water is coming next so they can use the dirt, and the trees and wetlands planted on top of it, to prevent future erosion. And...
Published 02/01/21
The trading app Robinhood restricted trading yesterday on GameStop, AMC, Nokia, BlackBerry and a few other ’90s favorite brands that have been targeted for boosting by the Reddit forum WallStreetBets. It’s allowing users to buy limited quantities again today. Other brokers limited trades as well. But at least one retail investor sued Robinhood, saying the company manipulated the market to protect the hedge funds that have lost a lot of money placing short bets on GameStop over the past...
Published 01/29/21
If you follow financial markets, Reddit or video games, you probably know that all three of those things merged this week in a hail of fire and rocket emojis. The simplest possible version of what happened: Several big hedge funds shorted GameStop stock. That is, they bet it would go down. There’s a group on Reddit called WallStreetBets, and they weren’t having it. Many of them decided to buy GameStop, causing its share price to go up — way up. Now, GameStop is up over 1,00% this month. The...
Published 01/28/21
With all the crises facing America, it’s surprising to find privacy so high on President Joe Biden’s agenda. But in his first week in office, he already appointed someone to negotiate with the European Union on how personal information is moved between Europe and the U.S. Last summer, the EU said the way data was being sent to the U.S. was insecure. In August, Ireland’s data regulators told Facebook to stop transferring its citizens’ data out of Europe. The issue is with the Irish High Court....
Published 01/27/21
On the first full day of his administration, President Joe Biden signed an executive order designed to ensure a data-driven response to COVID-19 and future public health threats. The administration already faces a big choice around COVID-19 data. In July, the Trump administration directed hospitals to stop sending data to the Centers for Disease Control, and instead to send it to the Department of Health and Human Services. And HHS used the data analysis company Palantir to harmonize the...
Published 01/26/21
Climate change is high on President Joe Biden’s agenda. Last week, on his first day in office, the United States rejoined the Paris climate accord. Reuters reports he’s expected to announce a climate order that will introduce new regulations and make climate change a national security priority. And Biden has tied economic recovery to climate investment — new jobs, new infrastructure and new funding. Molly spoke with Jay Koh, managing director of the private equity firm Lightsmith Group, which...
Published 01/25/21
We as a country are trying to figure out what is true. Or more accurately, whether we can agree on what is true. In his inaugural speech this week, President Joe Biden called for a return to truth and an end to the deliberate spread of misinformation. That happens on social media platforms; in fact, it’s built into their business models, and misinformation influencers abound. But that’s not the only vector. Molly speaks with Kevin Roose, who covers social media for The New York Times.
Published 01/22/21
The financial tech firm Plaid announced this week that it’s doubling its workforce in Europe. That is largely because its planned $5.3 billion merger with Visa fell apart earlier this month, after the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit. Plaid is a platform that lets you, a customer, link your bank account to a fintech app like Venmo or Robinhood. You log in using Plaid’s interface, but the bank itself is cut out of the loop. The banks hate that. Visa could have used Plaid to...
Published 01/21/21