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President Trump's Twitter account disappeared for a few minutes on Thursday after a departing Twitter employee deactivated it. Mary Louise Kelly speaks to NPR's Laura Sydell about security questions that raises about the president's favorite medium for disseminating information.

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Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

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One year ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it was a “pretty crazy idea” that the social network he created might have influenced the presidential election.

He’s since had a change of heart. And the idea doesn’t seem that crazy, considering the scope of Russian activity online around the election. As the New York Timesreports:

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There appears to be no quick patch for the malware afflicting America's political life.

Over the course of three congressional hearings Tuesday and Wednesday, lawmakers fulminated, Big Tech witnesses were chastened but no decisive action appears to be in store to stop a foreign power from harnessing digital platforms to try to shape the information environment inside the United States.

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And now we're joined by Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee, which also heard from Facebook, Twitter and Google today. Welcome, Congressman.

WILL HURD: Thanks for having me on.

Facebook, Google and Twitter appeared in a Capitol Hill marathon before the Senate and then House Intelligence Committees. At today's hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the public got a clearer view of how Russia operated online to interfere in the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Updated at 6:43 p.m. ET

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., wasted no time on Wednesday connecting the abstract story that is Russian election interference to strife in the real world.

With lawyers from Facebook, Twitter and Google sitting before him, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman described a divisive scene in Houston last year — engineered entirely by Russian influence-mongers.

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Nearly a year after Election Day, Americans have the clearest picture yet about the extent of the influence campaign Russia ran against the United States in 2016.

The operation had a clandestine side and an overt side, and aspects that moved from one into the other. It involved a number of Russian government intelligence officers and cyber-operatives within Russia, as well as at least a few operatives working in the West.

And, according to at least one former top U.S. spymaster, it went better than its authors could have possibly imagined.

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Updated at 7:19 p.m. ET

Russian interference efforts in the 2016 presidential election were broader than anyone first knew, as representatives for Facebook, Twitter and Google told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

In July 2016, the aftermath of a police shooting of an African-American man was broadcast live on Facebook. Instantly, Americans of all stripes used the platform to step up the race wars and attack each other.

They both work in financial circles and have a Greek heritage. Other than that, there is little similarity between George Papadopoulos, a certified public accountant from Michigan, and the "other," more famous George Papadopoulos, the one who cut a plea deal after lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians as a Trump campaign official.

Like the United States, Germany is grappling with fake news and hate speech and what to do about it. For decades, it has banned incitement, defamation, and phrases and symbols from the Nazi era.

But the lines have been a lot murkier when the offenses in question are on the Internet.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition tried to address the discrepancy this year with a controversial "Network Enforcement Law," which the German parliament passed on June 30, and which quietly went into effect on Oct. 1.

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Which of these statements seems more trustworthy to you?

1) Americans are drowning in a tsunami of ignorance! There is a conspiracy at the highest levels to replace all knowledge with propaganda and disinformation.

2) A recent Stanford University report found that more than 80 percent of middle schoolers didn't understand that the phrase "sponsored content" meant "advertising."

Twitter may be the public square of our times, but some citizens say their elected officials don't want to hear from them. It has become increasingly common for politicians at all levels of government to block followers, whether for uncivil behavior or merely for expressing a different point of view.

Facebook says 126 million people may have seen Russian content aimed at influencing Americans. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to weed out Russian operatives and extremist propaganda from Facebook.

But savvy marketers — people who've used Facebook's advertising platform since its inception — say that social media giant will find it hard to banish nefarious actors because its technology is designed to be wide open and simple to use.

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Earlier this month, the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children.

The device, called Aristotle, looked similar to a baby monitor with a camera. Critics called it creepy.

Powered by artificial intelligence, Aristotle could get to know your child — at least that was how the device was being pitched.

There is lots to watch this week, from a potentially make-or-break stretch on the tax overhaul President Trump so badly wants to social media network officials testifying about what they knew and when they knew it about Russian-linked ads that may have helped influence the 2016 presidential election.

Black leaders have condemned the Russian efforts in the 2016 election cycle that apparently sought to divide African-Americans both from whites and from each other, but nothing about those efforts is new.

Russian and Soviet influence-mongers have spent decades pressing as hard as they can on the most painful areas of the American body politic, from the days of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the current era of the Black Lives Matter movement.

As fire fighters in California's wine country worked frantically to contain and put out devastating wildfires that killed at least 42 people in recent weeks, and while his officers were still evacuating residents and searching through the burned ruins of homes for missing persons, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano had another problem to address.

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