Listen

Bobby Allyn

Updated at 7:55 p.m. ET

Nearly half of the Twitter accounts spreading messages on the social media platform about the coronavirus pandemic are likely bots, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University said Wednesday.

Researchers culled through more than 200 million tweets discussing the virus since January and found that about 45% were sent by accounts that behave more like computerized robots than humans.

Apple Stores are beginning to reopen after the company in mid-March closed hundreds of its locations in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 100 stores, or about a fifth of the tech giant's worldwide storefronts, are now open, including locations in Alabama, Florida, California and Washington state.

About 25 additional stores in the U.S. in seven states are set to open their doors this week, according to Apple.

With its ride-hailing business devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, Uber is in talks to acquire online food delivery company Grubhub.

If the two sides can reach a deal, the combined company would emerge as the dominant food-delivery app with 55% of the U.S. market, according to analyst Dan Ives with Wedbush Securities.

After two weeks of working from her Brooklyn apartment, a 25-year-old e-commerce worker received a staffwide email from her company: Employees were to install software called Hubstaff immediately on their personal computers so it could track their mouse movements and keyboard strokes, and record the webpages they visited.

They also had to download an app called TSheets to their phones to keep tabs on their whereabouts during work hours.

Facebook will pay $52 million to thousands of current and former contract workers who viewed and removed graphic and disturbing posts on the social media platform for a living, and consequently suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a settlement agreement announced on Tuesday between the tech giant and lawyers for the moderators.

Twitter is now labeling misleading, disputed or unverified tweets about the coronavirus. It is even removing content it believes could lead to harm, the company announced Monday.

The labels warn users about the problematic tweets and steer them to authoritative sources, including public health agencies and credible news outlets.

Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity, said on a call with reporters that the mission is not to "fact-check the entire Internet," but rather to limit the spread of potentially harmful tweets.

Business was humming for Airbnb host Josep Navas Masip in Philadelphia. So he purchased a second home and planned to renovate it and add it to his Airbnb offerings.

"In the middle of the renovation, the coronavirus crisis hit," he said. "I had to cancel my renovations, and I had to tell the contractor to stop working."

Navas Masip, 44, was bringing in about $2,000 a month from the two rooms he was renting from his South Philadelphia home.

Updated Thursday at 6:51 p.m. ET

Zoom has agreed to do more to prevent hackers from disrupting video conferencing sessions and to protect users' data, according to a deal announced on Thursday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Airbnb says it's cutting 1,900 employees — about 25% of its workforce — in one of the largest layoffs to hit Silicon Valley as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The global pandemic is the "most harrowing crisis of our lifetime," Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said in an email to employees on Tuesday. The virus's devastating blow to the travel industry means the company's 2020 revenue is forecast to be less than half of what the startup pulled in last year, he said.

Dan Munro changed his Twitter handle to "Dan is interviewing" after finding out he lost his job via a Zoom call.

The method of firing is becoming the norm in the tech industry during the coronavirus recession.

"No one enjoyed it," Munro said. "It was pretty rough for everyone because we're a pretty small company and everybody knows each other pretty well."

The CEO of Airbnb has made a lot of chocolate-chip cookies since the coronavirus pandemic began.

"People call it stress-baking," Brian Chesky said. "If that's the case, I'm going to be a Michelin chef pretty soon, because I got enough stress to do a lot of baking."

That's no surprise given that the lure of Airbnb — to have a unique experience by staying in a stranger's home — has lost considerable appeal as the pandemic courses its way through the world, paralyzing travel.

Bill Hinshaw's phone has been ringing off the hook lately.

From his home in Gainesville, Texas, which Hinshaw describes as "horse country," he runs a group called the COBOL Cowboys. It's an association of programmers who specialize in the Eisenhower-era computer language. Now their skills are in demand, thanks to the record number of people applying for unemployment benefits.

Monikers have followed Martin Pichinson for his whole career, given his line of work. He winds down technology companies, selling off their assets in their final days. And so, in some corners, Pichinson has become known as the "Undertaker of Silicon Valley."

It's a grim practice he has honed since the dot-com bust of the late 1990s, when he shuttered nearly 200 tech companies.

"If there's no revenue incoming and there's no money investing, the company is basically insolvent and out of business," he said. "We basically come in and clean up the messes."

The middle of an economic downturn may seem like an odd time to debut a new iPhone, but Apple on Wednesday announced its latest model — a cheaper, smaller version that may just fit with the times.

The new iPhone SE features a new and improved processor and camera. But for the most part, it looks and feels like models of yore. With a smaller size and screen, it is nearly as compact as the iPhone 6, which launched in 2014. It also features the home button that disappeared in the most recent models.

The popular photo app VSCO has terminated about a third of its staff, NPR has learned.

After being contacted by NPR, VSCO co-founder Joel Flory took to LinkedIn to go public with news of the layoffs, saying he had to "say goodbye" to 45 of his 150 employees.

Updated at 9:12 p.m. ET

President Trump doubled down Sunday on the suggestion that people facing the coronavirus should consider taking an anti-malaria drug that has not been proven to be an effective treatment.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says the Democratic National Convention may need take place virtually as a result of the deepening coronavirus outbreak.

On Thursday the party delayed the presidential nominating convention from mid-July to mid-August over pandemic fears, but Biden on Sunday raised the specter of Democrats choosing their White House nominee online for the first time.

The federal government on Thursday relaxed restrictions on receiving blood donations from gay men and other groups as the country confronts a severe drop in the U.S. blood supply that officials described as urgent and unprecedented.

Updated Thursday at 3 a.m. ET

In describing steps the military is taking to confront the coronavirus pandemic within its ranks, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that some are calling for the U.S. military to cease operations.

"There seems to be this narrative out there that we should just shut down the entire United States military and address the problem that way. That's not feasible," said Esper during the White House's coronavirus task force briefing.

During Tuesday's White House press briefing, President Trump said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is "a great governor" who "knows exactly what he's doing" in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vice President Mike Pence added to the DeSantis accolades, saying the Republican governor has "been taking decisive steps from early on."

But according to public health experts, thousands of heath care workers and a pending lawsuit, DeSantis' leadership has been woefully inadequate.

Michigan now ranks third in the country for coronavirus-related deaths, trailing only New York and New Jersey, after the Midwest state on Tuesday reported a new surge of cases.

State officials confirmed another 1,117 cases, bringing the coronavirus tally in Michigan to 7,615.

Officials on Tuesday said the virus claimed the lives of 75 more people, pushing up the number of COVID-19 fatalities to 259.

More than 1,200 people have now died of the coronavirus in New York, but the worst of the outbreak has yet to arrive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday.

Cuomo said the coronavirus is overtaxing the state's health care workers. He asked for the assistance of medical volunteers from other parts of the country as the pandemic continues to devastate New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Updated 8:13 p.m. ET

President Trump said on Sunday that federal guidelines urging Americans to social distance to slow the spread of the coronavirus will remain in place for another month and could last until June.

Under the recommendations, the Trump administration is imploring people to avoid restaurants, bars and other situations involving more than 10 people and restrict traveling to trips deemed essential.

The nation's leading expert on infectious diseases and member of the White House's coronavirus task force says the pandemic could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans and infect millions.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said based on modeling of the current pace of the coronavirus' spread in the U.S., "between 100,000 and 200,000" people may die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

During the White House's Thursday coronavirus task force briefing, President Trump boasted about a "terrific meeting" he had with state governors about coordinating a response to the outbreak.

"We had a great meeting," Trump said. "It was no contention. I would say virtually none."

Updated 8:00 a.m. ET Thursday

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ben McAdams each said Wednesday evening that they have tested positive for COVID-19. They are the first two members of Congress to announce positive tests for the novel coronavirus.

They both said they experienced symptoms and have been self-quarantining.

Diaz-Balart, 58, and McAdams, 45, both voted on the House floor as recently as early Saturday morning, when lawmakers passed a coronavirus relief package.

President Trump said Wednesday he will nominate his acting budget director, Russ Vought, to be the permanent director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Vought has been serving as OMB's acting director since January 2019, when Mick Mulvaney departed to step in as Trump's acting chief of staff, a role that has since ended, with Mulvaney now serving as U.S. special envoy to Northern Ireland.

Updated at 4:18 p.m. ET

President Trump ordered the border with Canada partly closed on Wednesday and the Pentagon said it would join the coronavirus pandemic response with hospital ships, field treatment centers and medical supplies.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has proposed sending money directly to Americans to help blunt the economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic, saying it's time to "go big" to boost the now-stalled economy.

Trump said he wants Congress to push through a major comprehensive package to help businesses and workers facing hardships — one of many abrupt shifts the administration has made this week as the scope of the pandemic has come into sharp focus.

In the face of the coronavirus worsening across the U.S. and reordering the daily life of millions of Americans, fewer people view the pandemic as a real threat, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Just about 56% of Americans consider the coronavirus a "real threat," representing a drop of 10 percentage points from last month. At the same time, a growing number of Americans think the coronavirus is being "blown out of proportion."

Pages