Monday through Friday, Marketplace demystifies the digital economy in less than 10 minutes. We look past the hype and ask tough questions about an industry that’s constantly changing.
How Google tracks you online may be changing
It’s been a particularly busy week for Google. Three state attorneys general, plus one from Washington, D.C., sued the tech giant, alleging it misled consumers about when they were being tracked. Google also announced this week it’s going to change the way it collects user data for advertising purposes. What’s been happening with the company this week is our focus for “Quality Assurance,” where we take a deeper look at a big tech story. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Patience Haggin, who covers digital advertising and privacy for The Wall Street Journal.
Teachers reevaluate remote learning amid the omicron wave
There was a point last fall when school districts across the country were poised to finally fully return to in-person instruction. But as omicron cases surged among students and school staff, many of those plans had to change. Some districts decided to remain open, and, in others, teachers are bouncing between in-person and virtual instruction. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams has a story featuring several of these teachers. For some, virtual classes are an easier lift now compared to the start of the pandemic, but even as they struggled, some teachers have realized unexpected benefits of remote learning.
As the NFT market grows, so does the potential for scams
NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are a bit of a tech fad at the moment, with plenty of different opinions about whether they are here to stay. But for now, they are continuing their push into the mainstream. NFTs are digital assets, like JPEGs or tweets, that can be bought and sold on a marketplace. They’re a way to make something that traditionally could just be copied and shared online, rare — and therefore, to some, valuable. And as transaction prices for these items climbs, so does the risk of scams. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Corin Faife, a senior reporter at The Verge, who’s been following this trend.
As pandemic moratoriums end, an eviction crisis is looming. Can tech tools help?
The last of the pandemic eviction moratoriums are winding down. New York’s ended on Jan. 15, and New Mexico’s is the only state-wide moratorium still in place. Various forms of rental assistance and other tenant protections are still available. Nevertheless, housing advocates say landlords have filed for hundreds of thousands of evictions since March of 2020. And many of those tenants can’t afford a lawyer to advise or defend them. As Stephanie Siek reports, some new tech solutions are available to help tenants fight eviction.
A “vehicle for antitrust change” picks up steam
The latest effort to reign in Big Tech cleared a procedural step in the Senate last week, moving one step closer to a floor vote. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would prevent big tech firms from giving preference to their own products and services. According to some lawmakers, that unfairly stifles competition. Though the bill has bipartisan support, bipartisan concern over the details means it’s getting hit with requests for changes on questions like privacy and who exactly it applies to. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Will Rinehart, a senior research fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity, about the bill’s significance.
How the pandemic has sped up the automation of some jobs
Even before the pandemic, the economy was seeing a shift to automation as companies looked for cheaper, more efficient ways to build their products or serve more customers. Now, the pandemic has led to staffing shortages in multiple industries and has accelerated the trend, which means in the future you may be more likely to order your food with a QR code, interact with a chatbot instead of a person for customer service or use a self-operating kiosk at a business that may never go back to the old way of doing things. Marketplace’s Kimberly Adams speaks with Kristen Broady, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, about how the pandemic is speeding up this shift. For many businesses, it’s an economic decision, Broady says.