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

Verizon and Netflix are engaged in a feud over connection speeds.
Spencer Platt
Getty Images
Verizon and Netflix are engaged in a feud over connection speeds.

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 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.