Shannon Bond

Shannon Bond is a business correspondent at NPR, covering technology and how Silicon Valley's biggest companies are transforming how we live, work and communicate.

Bond joined NPR in September 2019. She previously spent 11 years as a reporter and editor at the Financial Times in New York and San Francisco. At the FT, she covered subjects ranging from the media, beverage and tobacco industries to the Occupy Wall Street protests, student debt, New York City politics and emerging markets. She also co-hosted the FT's award-winning podcast, Alphachat, about business and economics.

Bond has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School and a bachelor's degree in psychology and religion from Columbia University. She grew up in Washington, D.C., but is enjoying life as a transplant to the West Coast.

The state of California is suing Uber and Lyft for classifying their drivers as contractors instead of employees. The lawsuit is the first major test of a new state law intended to give gig workers more labor protections, including access to employer-sponsored health insurance.

Workers at retail and delivery companies, including Amazon, Target, and Instacart, walked off the job Friday to demand better pay and treatment.

Their work has been deemed "essential," but they say it has gotten too dangerous during the coronavirus pandemic — and they want the companies to do more to protect them.

Lyft is laying off 982 employees — 17% of its workforce — as it tries to reduce costs amid plummeting demand for rides. It is furloughing hundreds more workers, and cutting pay.

For grocery delivery worker Willy Solis, the last straw came when the app Shipt changed his pay — in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

It wasn't the first time that Shipt, owned by Target, had tinkered with that formula. Solis had complained about smaller paychecks and lack of pay transparency. But now he and others like him were putting their health on the line to do their work. Solis decided he had to take action. From his home in Denton, Texas, he logged on to Facebook and started organizing a nationwide walkout.

Facebook is rolling out a video-call competitor to Zoom, aimed at groups of up to 50 people.

The new feature, called Messenger Rooms, allows anyone with a Facebook account to create a video meeting and invite their friends to join, even if those people are not Facebook users.

Video conferencing has become a staple for many people stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. It's how they keep up with work, school, family, friends and activities.

Jerome Gage is one of those rare Lyft drivers still on the road these days, mask securely in place. He says that surprises some passengers.

"It's kind of like the cliché of a Christmas shopper going into Macy's at like 3 a.m. on Black Friday and saying, 'Wow, they have you working?' " he said. "Yeah, I'm working because people need us. They don't want to rely on public transportation.''

Many Lyft and Uber drivers have given up on driving, because they aren't making enough money to take the risk of potentially exposing themselves to the virus.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Dennis Johnson was just trying to defend his dissertation — the last step in getting his doctorate in education — in front of a virtual audience of friends and family.

Instead, he became the face of "Zoombombing," a new form of online harassment, when an unknown intruder interrupted his Zoom video conference by drawing genitalia and writing racial slurs on screen.

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Facebook is canceling gatherings of more than 50 people through June 2021 and taking a slow approach to letting employees return to the office, as the social network looks toward the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Guidance from health experts is that it won't be advisable to have large groups of people get together for a while," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. He said some of the events that Facebook had planned will be moved online.

In a new move to stop the spread of dangerous and false information about the coronavirus, Facebook will start telling people when they've interacted with posts about bogus cures, hoaxes and other false claims.

Updated at 6:25 p.m. ET

Tech giants Apple and Google are teaming up to create a system that would let smartphone users know when they've come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.

The technology would rely on the Bluetooth signals that smartphones can both send out and receive. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they could notify public health authorities through an app. Those public health apps would then alert anyone whose smartphones had come near the infected person's phone in the prior 14 days.

A civil rights group is demanding that Zoom do more to stop harassment on its video-conferencing platform.

Color Of Change, a nonprofit that advocates for racial equality, is meeting on Friday with Zoom's global risk and compliance officer, Lynn Haaland, NPR has learned. The group plans to raise concerns over a rise in "Zoombombing" attacks involving racist slurs and hate speech.

Almost everyone knows each other in Camp Hill, Pa., a cozy little community of about 7,500 people near Harrisburg.

But like many places across the country, Camp Hill is on lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic. So last week, Leigh Twiford, president of the local borough council, held an online town hall using a Zoom video conference.

Updated at 3:44 p.m. ET

The CEO and founder of the newly popular video conferencing service Zoom says he'll make his product harder to use, if it improves safety and security.

Zoom has taken off during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to how easy it is to join a virtual meeting on the platform by clicking on a single link.

But now Eric Yuan says, "When it comes to a conflict between usability and privacy and security, privacy and security [are] more important – even at the cost of multiple clicks."

April McGhee and her teenage daughter started feeling sick last month. They had coughs, sore throats and fevers. Her daughter's condition became so bad that they went to the emergency room.

"She had it worse than I did," McGhee said. "Her cough lasted longer. It was really a concern. ... It was like a dry, nonproductive, hacking cough."

McGhee, who lives in Sacramento, wanted both of them to get tested for the coronavirus. But the hospital told her they weren't sick enough to qualify for testing under California's rules. So, they went home and into isolation.

A powerful Senate Democrat is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Zoom for deceptive practices, adding to the growing chorus of concerns over the popular video chat software's privacy and security flaws.

Several state attorneys general are also probing Zoom, after users, including government officials, reported harassment, known as "Zoombombing," on the platform.

Updated at 11:22 a.m. ET

Dennis Johnson fell victim last week to a new form of harassment known as "Zoombombing," in which intruders hijack video calls and post hate speech and offensive images such as pornography. It's a phenomenon so alarming that the FBI has issued a warning about using Zoom.

Like many people these days, Johnson is doing a lot of things over the Internet that he would normally do in person. Last week, he defended his doctoral dissertation in a Zoom videoconference.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are relying more heavily on automated systems to flag content that violate their rules, as tech workers were sent home to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 6:01 p.m. ET

Some Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., and Instacart's grocery delivery workers nationwide walked off their jobs on Monday. They are demanding stepped-up protection and pay as they continue to work while much of the country is asked to isolate as a safeguard against the coronavirus.

With very few people booking Airbnbs or taking Uber rides right now, millions of people in the gig economy are seeing their livelihoods abruptly upended.

Take Ed Bell, in San Francisco, who rents out his in-law suite on Airbnb. That is his main source of income — he calls it his "gig" — supplemented by "side hustles" doing consulting work.

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET

More people are shifting to the digital world as life outside the home is put on hold. That's putting a lot of pressure on companies to keep connections up when all their employees are trying to telework at the same time. It's also posing challenges for Internet video conferencing services.

In South Korea and Italy in recent weeks, people stuck in their homes are using the Internet a lot more.

Uber is pausing its pool service, and Lyft is suspending its shared rides feature in the United States and Canada in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Those services let passengers headed in the same direction carpool in exchange for cheaper fares.

But as cities tell people to avoid nonessential travel and stay at least 6 feet away from one another, Uber and Lyft say they are supporting public health guidance.

Joe Renice noticed things were different last week in downtown San Francisco.

"I was driving around the financial district for 3 1/2 hours. I got one ride," he said.

Renice is an Uber driver and normally spends a good chunk of his day ferrying tech workers and tourists around the city.

Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are telling employees in the Seattle area to work from home as the business world tries to reduce risks from the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

Facebook said a contractor in one of its Seattle offices had been diagnosed with the disease caused by the virus. The worker was last in the office on Feb. 21, and Facebook has closed the office until March 9. The company is encouraging all employees in Seattle to work from home through the end of the month.

Updated at 11:57 a.m. ET Wednesday

Google is the latest company to cancel a big event and curb employee travel as the global spread of the coronavirus outbreak has struck fear across the business world.

The tech company called off its flagship developers conference, called I/O, which was scheduled for May in Mountain View, Calif. Last year, the three-day event drew 7,000 attendees.

Jack Dorsey isn't your regular CEO. He often says and does things that raise eyebrows.

Now, one large investor has had enough. The powerful hedge fund Elliott Management has bought a sizable stake in Twitter in hopes of bringing change to the social media company.

Elliott is concerned that Dorsey hasn't focused enough on Twitter, because he is also chief executive of payments company Square. The hedge fund is pushing for a CEO whose sole job is running Twitter.

A Google employee in Switzerland has tested positive for the new coronavirus, as the tech giant and other American companies crack down on employee travel amid the widening outbreak.

The Google employee was in its Zurich office "for a limited time" before exhibiting symptoms, the company said in a statement.

"We have taken - and will continue to take - all necessary precautionary measures, following the advice of public health officials, as we prioritize everyone's health and safety," Google said.

If you're having a hard time falling asleep, that sleep tracker on your wrist might be to blame.

And there's a name for this new kind of insomnia of the digital age: orthosomnia.

It's "when you just really become fixated on having this perfect sleep via tracker," said Seema Khosla, medical director at the North Dakota Center for Sleep. "And then you start worrying about it, and you wind up giving yourself insomnia."

One of the world's biggest trade shows has been cancelled as mounting concerns over the coronavirus outbreak ripple across the business world.

Organizers called off the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, after big-name participants pulled out.

Puerto Ricans could be casting their ballots online only in the next eight years, according to a bill that is expected to pass this week.

Civil liberties advocates are ringing alarm bells over this plan to shift voting online, warning that the move threatens election security and voting rights.

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