NPR : News

Tech Week: Facebook's Bet, Streaming Fight, Google Maps Indoors

No rest for weary tech reporters this President's Day week, as the news on this beat tumbled forth fast and furiously. A look back at some of the topics dominating conversation follows, with NPR coverage in the "in case you missed it" section, and largely curated coverage from elsewhere in "The Big Conversation" and "Curiosities."


WhatsApp's Worth: Many Americans were introduced to WhatsApp this week when Facebook made its most massive acquisition ever, purchasing the global messaging company for $19 billion. The deal makes WhatsApp more valuable than Southwest Airlines, among other companies. But is it worth it? We looked at a few reasons why Facebook seems to think so.

Leaky Confessional Apps: Our friends at Turnstyle introduce you to Whisper and Secret, two popular confessional apps that are rising in popularity with young people and the tech industry. Secret's primarily Silicon Valley-driven users are spilling rumors about companies and potential partnerships, on top of juicy gossip that has become the currency of these platforms.

Innovation In Porn: Online pornography used to be on the leading edge of e-commerce, KQED's Aarti Shahani reports, but hard times have fallen on the industry. She explains how today's online porn empires are trying new tacks to keep customers coming back.

The Big Conversation

Cable Vs. Online Video: As our Jim Zarroli explained, a nasty feud is brewing between Verizon and Netflix after judges struck down previous net neutrality guidelines that leveled the playing field for Internet traffic. This week, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to issue new guidelines but the struggles between Internet provider Verizon and TV streamer Netflix illustrate what happens in the absence of a strong framework. Verizon is demanding payments for carrying "excessive traffic" — HD video streaming services like Netflix. Netflix is refusing to pay extra.


Google's Project Tango

Google announced a new phone that maps indoor spaces, a collaboration between several companies and universities. If successful, this seems to get Google even closer to its ultimate goal of making sense of the world around us — everything that's technologically possible to know, the company seems to want to know it.

LA Times: Google creates near real-time deforestation tracking tool

Speaking of Google wanting to know everything ... this tool, which tracks global deforestation, is pretty impressive and grim.

Quartz: Turns out Twitter is even more politically polarized than you thought

Yikes. Check out the map to see what Pew Researchers found, which showed "large dense groups that have little inter-connection or bridge between them."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

WAMU 88.5

Barry Meier: "Missing Man"

Nine years ago, former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared in Iran while on a mission for the CIA. The story of his secret journey to Iran, the CIA cover-up that followed and efforts to rescue the longest-held U.S. hostage.


'Invisible Army' Of Immigrant Women Finds Its Voice Through Cooking

Brazilian immigrant Roberta Siao says being both a foreigner and mother made it hard to find work in London. At Mazi Mas, a restaurant that trains and employs immigrants, she found more than a job.
WAMU 88.5

The Fight for D.C.'s Budget Freedom

Last week, a House committee with oversight of the District passed legislation that would block the ability of the Council to spend its own tax dollars.

WAMU 88.5

The U.S. Expands Ties To Vietnam

President Barack Obama lifts the embargo against U.S. arms sales to Vietnam. We discuss what closer ties between the U.S. and Vietnam mean for trade, leverage on human rights and growing concerns over China's military expansion.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.