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.

Support for the siege on the U.S. Capitol. Bogus promises of COVID-19 cures. Baseless rumors about vaccines.

Who should be held accountable for the spread of extremism and hoaxes online?

Lina Khan, a prominent antitrust scholar who advocates for stricter regulation of Big Tech, may be about to become one of the industry's newest watchdogs.

President Biden on Monday nominated Khan to the Federal Trade Commission, an agency tasked with enforcing competition laws. She is the splashiest addition to Biden's growing roster of Big Tech critics, including fellow Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, who announced earlier this month he would join the National Economic Council.

Facebook is failing to enforce its own rules against falsehoods about COVID-19, vaccines, election fraud and conspiracy theories when it comes to posts in Spanish, according to a coalition of advocacy groups.

"There is a gap, quite an enormous gap, in fact, in English and Spanish-language content moderation," Jessica González, co-CEO of the advocacy group Free Press, told NPR.

Instagram recommended false claims about COVID-19, vaccines and the 2020 U.S. election to people who appeared interested in related topics, according to a new report from a group that tracks online misinformation.

"The Instagram algorithm is driving people further and further into their own realities, but also splitting those realities apart so that some people are getting no misinformation whatsoever and some people are being driven more and more misinformation," said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which conducted the study.

There's a saying in Silicon Valley: Solve your own problems. Tracy Chou didn't have to look further than her social media feeds to see those problems.

"I've experienced a pretty wide range of harassment," she said. "Everything from the casual mansplaining-reply guys to really targeted, persistent harassment and stalking and explicit threats that have led me to have to go to the police and file reports."

On Feb. 1, the editor of an award-winning Indian magazine got a call from his social media manager: The magazine's Twitter account was down.

"I said, 'Are you sure? Can you just refresh, and check again?' " recalled Vinod K. Jose, executive editor of The Caravan, which covers politics and culture. "But she said, 'No, no, it's real.' "

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All right. Well, for more on this dilemma facing Twitter in India, we're going to turn now to NPR tech correspondent Shannon Bond.

Hey, Shannon.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

Twitter users aren't known for staying quiet when they see something that's flat out wrong, or with which they disagree. So why not harness that energy to solve one of the most vexing problems on social media: misinformation?

With a new pilot program called Birdwatch, Twitter is hoping to crowdsource the fact-checking process, eventually expanding it to all 192 million daily users.

"I think ultimately over time, [misleading information] is a problem best solved by the people using Twitter itself," CEO Jack Dorsey said on a quarterly investor call on Tuesday.

Facebook is expanding its ban on vaccine misinformation and highlighting official information about how and where to get COVID-19 vaccines as governments race to get more people vaccinated.

"Health officials and health authorities are in the early stages of trying to vaccinate the world against COVID-19, and experts agree that rolling this out successfully is going to be helping build confidence in vaccines," said Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook's head of health.

January brought a one-two punch that should have knocked out the fantastical, false QAnon conspiracy theory.

After the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the social media platforms that had long allowed the falsehoods to spread like wildfire — namely Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — got more aggressive in cracking down on accounts promoting QAnon.

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