Dec 1, 2018 - Technology

Deep Dive: The new digital divides

Note: Income inequality is shown using the Gini Index — a measure of income distribution among a population. A value of 0 represents absolute equality; a value of 1 absolute inequality. Data: 2017 American Community Survey; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

The internet has become a fundamental requirement of modern life. For those with comfortable incomes, living in cities or suburbs, connectivity and information can seem ubiquitous.

Reality check: According to a 2017 report from the Brookings Institution, less than one-fifth of Americans live in a neighborhood where at least 80% of the residents have broadband.

  • Nearly 1 in 5 teens are sometimes unable to complete homework because they lack a reliable computer or internet connection.
  • Local news and information is becoming scarce and hard to access. More than 500 newspapers have closed or merged in rural communities since 2004.

What's happening: This situation is the result of two types of “digital divide” operating today:

  • A geographic divide — in which rural and other areas are underserved because it doesn’t make financial sense for companies to invest in infrastructure.
  • An economic divide — where infrastructure is in place, but lower-income families lack affordable access and devices.

These divides are colliding and combining in troubling ways — creating a whole spectrum of education, information and privacy inequality.

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Congress comes together to save local news

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In a symbolic move, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last week signed on to be a co-sponsor to a bill that would allow newspapers to collectively negotiate with tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Why it matters: The move represents a truly bipartisan effort to get something done in Washington, for a change. With the Senate majority leader's support, it's much more likely that the bill will pass in both chambers and be signed into law by the president.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

Homelessness isn't just a big city problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Homelessness is on the rise in many of America's biggest and most expensive cities — but it's a growing problem in rural areas, too.

Why it matters: People experiencing homelessness are often harder to count in rural areas and they have a harder time accessing support programs in small towns with fewer resources.

Big Tech tries to curb coronavirus misinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Big Tech companies are responding to the Chinese coronavirus outbreak in two main ways: limiting employee travel to China and trying to make sure their users have access to accurate health information.

Why it matters: Like the virus itself, the spread of misinformation is hard to slow.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020 - Science