Aarti Shahani | KBIA

Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is a correspondent for NPR. Based in Silicon Valley, she covers the biggest companies on earth. She is also an author. Her first book, Here We Are: American Dreams, American Nightmares (out Oct. 1, 2019), is about the extreme ups and downs her family encountered as immigrants in the U.S. Before journalism, Shahani was a community organizer in her native New York City, helping prisoners and families facing deportation. Even if it looks like she keeps changing careers, she's always doing the same thing: telling stories that matter.

Shahani has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award and an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award. Her activism was honored by the Union Square Awards and Legal Aid Society. She received a master's in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, with generous support from the University and the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowship. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. She is an alumna of A Better Chance, Inc.

Shahani grew up in Flushing, Queens — in one of the most diverse ZIP codes in the country.

In Mountain View, Calif., a couple of miles down the road from Google, there's a new pizza shop. Only instead of a dozen blue-collar workers pouring marinara sauce, Zume Pizza has — you guessed it! — robots and algorithms running the show.

Their job is to solve a familiar problem: It's game night. You order pizza for you and your buddies. It arrives later than you'd hoped, aaaand it's cold.

"Pizza is not meant to sit in a cardboard box, ever," Zume co-founder Julia Collins says. "The best pizza you ever had came right out of the oven."

Think before you post.

That's not the message you typically get from Internet companies. The ethos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is to (over) share. But Nextdoor, a social network, has decided to block users from publishing certain posts, specifically when they appear to be racial profiling.

A techie tackles race

Talking about race and racial profiling does not come naturally to Nirav Tolia, the CEO of Nextdoor. And yet, he's doing it anyway.

Now here's a political endorsement you might not expect.

Hillary Clinton is the candidate who set up a private email server and was — in the words of the director of the FBI — "extremely careless" in how she handled classified information.

And her campaign and the Democratic Party just got hacked. Yet, prominent leaders in the cybersecurity industry are coming out in favor of Clinton for president.

The scene is something you just can't make up.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Marissa Mayer will go down in history as the last CEO of Yahoo. The great Internet pioneer is having its core business auctioned off to Verizon. When Mayer came on board four years ago, Yahoo was in a critical, make-or-break moment. It needed a decisive leader.

But in interviews with Mayer and people who worked with her, a different truth emerges: The CEO treated Yahoo more like a think tank than a sinking ship.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In the wake of last week's shootings, Facebook has seen a significant spike in flagged content, with users calling out each other's posts as racist, violent and offensive, according to Facebook employees, who say the company is having a very hard time deciding who is right or how to define hate speech.

Unpublished, and re-published

This weekend in Orlando, Fla., families are burying their loved ones — the people gunned down at Pulse nightclub. There are many different ways to grieve death. Sadness, remorse, rage. And then there's pure love.

If such a thing is possible, Daniel Alvear embodies it — in his feelings for his daughter, who died that night in Orlando, and for her killer.

The lawyer representing Uber drivers in the historic settlement — which could total as much as $100 million — is under attack. Critics and even the judge in the case say attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan may not be fighting hard enough, and that she may be accepting too little for the drivers. Liss-Riordan disagrees, and to prove her pure intentions, she is reducing her fees.

A Weak Settlement?

The last couple of weeks have not been pretty.

There is a scandal rocking the financial industry — or we should say, a small but important part of that industry: online lending.

The message from Google's developers' conference is clear: The company is prepared to take on competitors as well as regulators.

CEO Sundar Pichai and his team were flexing. Big time.

Through a litany of product announcements at the so-called I/O annual conference in Mountain View, Calif. — messaging apps, a personal virtual assistant and a voice-controlled speaker that connects you with it -- the company basically said:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET with an editor's note at the end of the story.

Sometimes you call an Uber, and what you thought would be an $8 ride is going to be two, three, even four times more — the result of greater demand brought on by a blizzard, or a baseball game. Whatever the reason, surge pricing is not fun.

It turns out Uber is working to fix it — or, should we say, end it. The move likely will be great for riders, but not for drivers.

Hunting For Surge

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET, with Facebook statement

An 18-year-old woman in Ohio is being charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery and a variant of distributing child pornography.

What led to this extraordinary list of alleged crimes? Live-streaming the alleged rape of her 17-year-old friend.

Prosecutors say Marina Lonina broadcast the incident on the Twitter-owned app Periscope. Lonina claims through her lawyer that she live-streamed the alleged rape because she was trying to get the man to stop.

Mark Zuckerberg has laid out a 10-year master plan for Facebook. It's bold. It's savvy. And it glosses over a key detail: the dark side of making the world more connected.

The Internal Revenue Service says it's seeing a surge in phone scams. More than 5,000 victims have been duped out of $26.5 million since late 2013. It's hard to know what exactly con artists are thinking when they target their victims. But now, we know what they are saying.

Before we get started, keep this in mind: The IRS says it doesn't call about outstanding taxes without first mailing you a bill.

The FBI says it has gotten into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters in California, so prosecutors have dropped their case trying to compel Apple to do it. But the controversy is far from over. Local prosecutors across the country have iPhones that they would like to unlock, and they want to know if the FBI will use its master key to help.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the news that the federal judge has granted the government's request for a delay in the case, giving the FBI time to test a new method of cracking the iPhone without Apple's help.

In the standoff between Apple and the FBI, each side is recruiting powerful allies and waging a war of words. As the story unfolds, we'll fact-check the boldest claims, starting with this one by FBI Director James Comey.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

You might think of Barcelona as an enchanted, historic European city. This week, it's home to a massive tech gathering: the Mobile World Congress. Tens of thousands of people from every corner of the earth are there — many showcasing the novel ways they're connecting citizen-consumers to the Internet. I took a tour of Innovation City and here are a few of my most memorable stops.

A Well-Connected Bike

Here's a little secret: It's possible to go online and buy a knockoff — a generic version of the drug Adderall, a fake "North Face" jacket or "Gucci" handbag. Now, we're not telling you to do it. But a big reason you can, it turns out, is that major banks in China are willing to handle the money.

Guerilla Marketing

Say you want Beats by Dre headphones. You don't want to pay Beats by Dre prices. Type in the brand name in a search engine and add words like "cheap," "super-sale."

In India, Facebook has a program to give people free Internet access — just to use Facebook and a handful of other services. Earlier this week, regulators in that country ruled that the program is discriminatory to other websites and is illegal. A Facebook board member took to Twitter to criticize the ruling. And in so doing, he sparked a global controversy.

It got ugly.

You've heard it before. Change your password. Change. Your. Password. But now, Americans are getting that message from the top. Password security is in such a sorry state, our commander in chief is weighing in with a call to action.

Intel has a new report out today. It's not about semiconductors. It's about diversity: how Intel is doing when it comes to women and underrepresented minorities on its staff. The results are mixed — some strong and some, frankly, failures. Still the sheer amount of information is exceptional, and a direct challenge to other Silicon Valley giants who've chosen to hide their data.

Be Engineers About Diversity

Let's start with some numbers.

Business travelers increasingly are relying on Uber and other ride-hailing services, often more than car rentals or taxis, according to new data.

Say you land at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. You've got a work meeting 20 minutes away. You might head to the rental desk to pick up a car. Or, you might call an Uber instead.

"More transactions coming through our system are in Uber than there were in all the rental car transactions," says Bob Neveu, CEO of Certify, a company that businesses use to book travel and track receipts.

Hundreds of thousands of people drive for Uber in the U.S. The ride-hailing company has had high-profile fights in courts and city halls over the status of these drivers: Are they employees or contractors? Can they unionize?

A fight that's gotten far less attention — one that may affect drivers far more — is the competition between Uber and its main rival, Lyft.

Competition for drivers is so great that, about a year ago, Uber sent covert operatives into Lyft cars — to recruit.

Isabella Dure-Biondi was one of these covert operatives.

Top law enforcement and intelligence officials were in Silicon Valley on Friday to meet top brass at tech companies. The topic: counterterrorism. The government wants the biggest Internet brands to weed out ISIS recruitment online, and even help run advertising campaigns against ISIS.

The meeting came as the Obama administration announced the creation of a task force of federal agencies to counter violent extremism.

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