Coda Currents


Coda Currents illuminates the trends shaping our world and puts them in context. From disinformation and the power of conspiracy theories to authoritarian tech and the rise of surveillance to the war on science and the influence of pseudoscience, we focus on the overarching stories that are poised to dominate our politics and our lives for years to come. Each week, Coda Story journalists show how these global trends impact you and communities around the world. You’ll hear international stories you won’t find anywhere else and see connections you never knew existed.

All Episodes

Surveillance can often be tough to spot amidst the benefits of technology. For a decade or so, companies have been using voice recognition software to help direct customer service calls. But they’ve also been selling it to us under the guise of convenience. Think Siri in your car, Alexa in your kitchen. But what are they doing with all that voice data they collect? We spoke with Joseph Turow, the author of The Voice Catchers, about how companies want to know us better than we know ourselves.

Jun 17

15 min 23 sec

QAnon has not disappeared since Donald Trump left office. It’s simply adapted, in part to avoid crackdowns on mainstream social media platforms. But the catchphrases that we typically associate with QAnon are becoming less common online.

Jun 10

13 min 55 sec

Many people who get caught up in anti-vaccine theories don't pull themselves out. But there are a few exceptions. These people do something that doesn’t come easy to many of us. They change their minds. Coda Story’s Isobel Cockerell speaks with one woman about leaving the anti-vaccine community. Plus, there are billions of dollars to be made off of pseudoscience and anti-vaccine propaganda. So who’s making it?.

Jun 3

9 min 49 sec

Between Covid-19 and election conspiracy theories, it feels like the golden age of disinformation. A massive disinfo network might have ties to Steve Bannon’s close associate and teaches us that disinfo online is a lot more coordinated than you might think. Plus fringe anti-censorship platforms are cropping up in Latvia, Poland and Hungary and Covid skeptics and far-right voices are quick to join.

May 27

12 min 34 sec

Reining in surveillance is an uphill battle, no matter where you go in the world. Europe has a plan for regulating AI and biometric mass surveillance, but it’s full of holes and exemptions. North Carolina gave police real time access to people’s cell phone location data without a warrant. So how do you put guardrails surveillance tech that are actually effective? Host Caitlin Thompson talked with Albert Fox Cahn of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. He has some ideas.

May 20

10 min 49 sec

India’s healthcare system is struggling to stay afloat as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. So young people are using social media to help total strangers find oxygen and hospital beds. We talk to them about what’s on their minds as the government tries to erase criticism of its Covid response from Twitter. Plus, Mexico wants to build a massive government database of cell phone users’ biometric data.

May 13

11 min 9 sec

“Radiophobia” - a fear of radiation - has been around for a century. From mobile phones and microwaves to 5G, people have long harbored fears of risks they can’t see. And we look at why anti-Jewish prejudice is merging with pseudoscience.

May 6

13 min 44 sec

Cracking down on corruption and kleptocracy helps combat global inequality, tackle a major national security concern and raise the bar for transparency worldwide. We talk with journalist Oliver Bullough about the Biden administration’s push for corporate transparency. Plus, powerful people and corrupt heads of state use awards and honors to launder their reputations.

Apr 29

14 min 34 sec

Nearly 2,000 taxpayer-funded agencies in the US from Customs and Border Protection to police departments, and even two high schools, have used or tested a controversial facial recognition tool called Clearview AI, according to a recent Buzzfeed investigation. And in a lot of cases, the public and even higher-ups didn’t know about it. We talk to one of the Buzzfeed reporters who broke the story.

Apr 22

19 min 6 sec

Tensions are high between Russia and Ukraine right now, and people are worried about an outright invasion. And Russian state media is fanning the flames. But what triggered this? It’s a bit of a weird story. Meanwhile, in Scotland, a bizarre number of political candidates have connections to Russian state-affiliated TV shows, like RT.

Apr 15

16 min 57 sec

There’s a lot of bad science surrounding a syndrome called ME/CFS, or what is sometimes known as chronic fatigue. We talk with David Tuller, a journalist who has been covering this topic for years, about what he’s learned from people who participated in one pseudoscientific treatment that’s now being marketed to people suffering from long Covid. Plus, there’s a lot of misinformation about dieting.

Apr 8

15 min 20 sec

Leaked documents from Facebook give us new insight into the company’s policies towards abuse of public figures — anyone who has over 100k followers, politicians or even people who are infrequently in the news. Plus, we look at privacy concerns around vaccine passports. And we’re going to look a few years down the road at how vaccine certificates could set the stage for future ID systems.

Apr 1

13 min 27 sec

As the controversy over Covid-19 vaccine passports heats up, many of us won’t think twice about handing over proof of vaccination. But these vaccine passports are controversial. Both because some people will be left out if vaccine passports become widely used and because these systems come with privacy concerns. In part one of a two part mini-series on vaccine passports, we dig into the equality challenges surrounding vaccine passports.

Mar 25

17 min 32 sec

Abusers are using Stalkerware and smart homes to abuse domestic violence survivors. Coda reporter Erica Hellerstein looks at how technology opens up new avenues for harassment, intimidation and surveillance. Plus, how much control do you actually have over your health data, especially during the pandemic? During the Covid-19 crisis, we’re sharing things like Covid test results and pre-existing conditions in ways that we may have caused us to pause before the pandemic.

Mar 18

18 min 46 sec

Myanmar’s military has a tight grip on the internet. That has only intensified since the coup in early February. But it wasn’t always like that. The country was once an early example of how the internet could be harnessed for positive change. So how did Myanmar’s internet become such a heavily controlled space? Plus, governments worldwide are using the Covid-19 pandemic to limit free speech and ramp up censorship.

Mar 11

20 min 56 sec

Those in power often control the narrative. In Russia today, there’s a campaign to rewrite how history books remember the Soviet Union. The harsh reality of the Gulags is being glossed over. But survivors are telling their stories. And meanwhile in Brazil, two competing theories about who controls the government are fracturing reality. Watch Coda Story’s Generation Gulag documentary series about survivors of Soviet era atrocities: https://www.codastory.

Mar 4

14 min 50 sec

Why do people turn to pseudoscience and unproven homeopathic remedies? This week, we speak to a former naturopathic turned scientist to talk about why people who are seeking a sense of control over their are drawn to naturopathy. And in Colombia, Covid-19 misinformation is spreading from the cities to the countryside.

Feb 25

11 min 58 sec

Police in Jackson, Mississippi want to take their use of private surveillance to a whole new level and connect residents’ security cameras directly to police. It’s the evolution of a relationship between consumers, private companies like Amazon or Google and law enforcement. And it raises questions about the prevalence of private surveillance tech and who has access to it. Plus, what happens when social media companies like Twitter get annoyed with content moderation.

Feb 18

14 min 9 sec

Doctors try to stem the flood of misinformation on social media. Covid denialists creep closer toward extremism in Germany. And from Poland to Brazil, it has gotten even harder to get a safe and legal abortion during the pandemic.

Feb 11

10 min 32 sec

Ever wished you had another citizenship that would allow you to live in a different country or travel the world without a visa? If you have enough money, that’s entirely possible. But while oligarchs may be able to buy passports from another country, some people who live in Kenya aren’t even able to get documents to prove they’re citizens of the country they were born in. And it means they’re essentially stateless in their own country.

Feb 4

13 min 6 sec

Young Russians have flooded TikTok with videos in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and protests across the country. And the Russian government is starting to crack down on the platform. But of course, social media isn’t just for planning protests these days. ASMR influencers on Youtube are getting creative about how they reduce the fear that comes with navigating the world amid Covid-19.

Jan 28

13 min 15 sec

Cameras used to track down people who aren’t wearing masks. Contact tracing apps that alert people if they’ve come into contact with someone who has Covid-19. Remote learning platforms that track students’ eye movements while they take exams. We’re turning to tech to help us get through the pandemic and curb the spread of Covid-19. But some of these tools are raising a lot of questions about privacy during a public health crisis.

Jan 21

10 min 31 sec

For people who were paying close attention to QAnon and far-right extremist groups, the siege of the Capitol didn’t come out of nowhere. And it’s not just election disinformation that has disastrous effects. Even this far into the pandemic, there’s still a lot of pseudoscience. We take a look at one type: fake coronavirus cures.

Jan 14

14 min 54 sec

Coda Currents is coming soon.

Jan 3

1 min 21 sec