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.

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Facebook's CEO gave a public address on Tuesday in Silicon Valley, laying out the company's grand plan for the next year. Mark Zuckerberg provided dazzling details about how Facebook will use cameras, like the ones on our phones, to draw us deeper into digital life — and zero details about how Facebook will address growing safety concerns online.

He was speaking at F8. In tech land, that stands for the Facebook Developer Conference, which brings together thousands of people who make apps for Facebook and build other tools for the platform.

Uber is in crisis. This week the president resigned, after just six months on the job. Morale has been shaken following a damning account of sexual harassment. The board of directors is so concerned about the CEO's ability to lead, they're looking for a No. 2 to help steer the company.

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I recently visited China on a business trip. While there, I decided I wanted to get a pedicure. My search turned into quite the adventure — one that involved cutting edge translation technology, and a key word lost in translation.

The chief of Facebook made an ambitious announcement last week, though it would have been easy to miss. It came Thursday afternoon — about the same time that President Trump held his news conference. While the reality-TV icon is a genius at capturing our attention, the technology leader's words may prove to be more relevant to our lives, and more radical.

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I'm Robert Siegel with All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Editor's note: This story contains references to child pornography that some readers may find disturbing.

It's tempting to think of Facebook as pure entertainment — the dumb game you play when your boss looks away, or your date goes to the bathroom. But that's underestimating how powerful the Facebook empire has become. For some, the app is more important than a driver's license. People need it to contact colleagues, or even start and build businesses.

For some users, the platform is more important than having a driver's license. They use Facebook to make a living, but they find the rules change often, and the company boots people out without a clear reason or appeals process. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg undertakes his Middle America tour this year, he may have the opportunity to confront the realities of Facebook's economic impact on others.

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Facebook uses computers to spot pornography and wipe it away in milliseconds. Software is quicker than human beings and cheaper, but mistakes can still happen. That's exactly what happened recently when Facebook mistook a reporter for a child pornographer and expelled her. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports. And a warning - the story does include a description of disturbing images.

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The technology sector sometimes gets criticized for killing jobs by creating robots and algorithms to replace human labor. There is a new kind of work in tech that Facebook has made possible. Through this work, regular Americans without a computer science degree can actually make a really good living. NPR's Aarti Shahani has the story of these jobs, and why some of them are already in jeopardy.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: First, let's meet Tim Lawler. He weighs about 230 pounds and likes to lift.

Imagine that one day you're kicked off Facebook. It happens, regularly. You may not know why exactly. It looks like an algorithm may have done it — and now you need to reach a human being at the company to get back on. NPR has interviewed more than two dozen users in that situation — all people who rely on Facebook to do their work, make their living.

Their stories, which we'll share in a separate article, made us wonder: If you needed to reach Facebook, what would you do?

Many people would go online and search for "Facebook customer service."

Facebook is unveiling a new journalism project Wednesday. No, the Silicon Valley giant isn't hiring a team of reporters. Facebook says it wants engineers — the tech talent at local and global publishers — to tag-team earlier on to develop technologies that make Facebook a more powerful platform to distribute news and discuss it.

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For the most part, the tech industry did not support President-elect Trump. But he won, and now Trump is convening a technology summit this afternoon in New York City, and expects Silicon Valley leaders will be there.

One of the industry's luminaries — Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft — was already at Trump Tower Tuesday. He seemed to suggest Trump and the industry will reach an accommodation.

The post-election uproar over fake news and far-right websites is taking its toll on the advertising industry. Kellogg's announced it is pulling ads from the site Breitbart — which publishes right-wing content. Other brands are planning similar moves. But there's one big reason to believe this is just a short-term reaction in the heat of the moment, not a long-term trend.

Editor's Note: This story contains images and language that some readers may find disturbing.

Mark Zuckerberg — one of the most insightful, adept leaders in the business world — has a problem. It's a problem he has been slow to acknowledge, even though it's become more apparent by the day.

Since Donald Trump's election victory, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come out not once, but twice, to address the issue of fake news, inaccurate or simply false information that appears on the Web in the guise of journalism.

Mark Zuckerberg says the notion that fake news influenced the U.S. presidential election is "a pretty crazy idea."

In 2016, the polls got it wrong. They failed to predict that Donald Trump was winning key battleground states. But a startup in San Francisco says it spotted it well in advance, not because of the "enthusiasm gap" — Republicans turning out and Democrats staying at home. Instead, the startup Brigade's data pointed to a big crossover effect: Democrats voting for Trump in droves.

The company built an app that asks a simple question: Which candidate are you going to vote for?

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Cybersecurity has plagued this presidential election like no other in U.S. history. Earlier this week, the Obama administration indicated its plans to retaliate against Russia, in some way, for cyberattacks. Hacking came up, again, in the final presidential debate. Yet neither candidate is offering a roadmap for what to do on aggression, or how to handle foreign hackers.

There is a man who is a thorn in the side of Facebook — a problem that just won't go away. In 2008, Facebook sued him, saying he was a hacker and a spammer who was putting users at risk. But in a truly bizarre plot twist, he stood up to the Internet giant — and he has become the unlikely protagonist in a battle for your rights online.

Our protagonist

Steven Vachani and I are sitting at a Starbucks because, he doesn't want to say it, but: He doesn't have an office or a home in Silicon Valley anymore.

There is a startup in the love industry that promised to help people find real relationships — not just sex. But, as with so many things in love, it didn't go according to plan. The app became yet another hookup app. Today, after 10 months of soul-searching, the startup is making a very public commitment to change.

It's called Hinge, and it's based in Manhattan's Flatiron District. Back in January, it was coming to grips with a crisis.

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And now for something back on the ground. Web-based translators have made it much easier to understand things that are written in other languages, but they are not perfect, like this example.

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."

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