There are more tech stories happening around the globe than Rest of World alone could possibly cover. Here are some of the articles, podcasts, and photography essays by other publications that most impressed us during 2022. Between them, they cover the high-profile scandals surrounding Twitter and crypto, the devastating war in Ukraine, as well as stories unfolding away from global attention, such as the experiences of low-income workers whose inputs are crucial for artificial intelligence and TikTok.

“The hidden marketing machine behind Brazil’s food delivery giant”

By Clarissa Levy and Bárbara D’Osualdo, Coda Story

More than 80% of Brazil’s food delivery app market is taken up by iFood. This investigation, first published by the São Paulo nonprofit Agência Pública, exposed one tactic iFood uses to maintain its dominance. Digital marketing firms on the company’s payroll regularly undercut delivery workers organizing on social media by infiltrating the workers’ Facebook groups with fake profiles or by identifying leading organizers to “shadow ban” on the iFood platform. It is a striking document of how social media has become a key battleground for labor movements, and those who wish to suppress them, in the gig economy. – Andrew Deck, reporter

“Exposing Indonesia’s Coal Oligarchs”

By Viriya Singgih, Project Multatuli

I’ve long admired Project Multatuli, a young, not-for-profit media outfit from Indonesia that punches well above its weight. Here’s an illustration of their chops: an interactive that combines the intensive research of a report with a wry reference in format to game-playing  — and the aesthetics of Street Fighter. – Sarah Hilton, Asia editor

“The Benin Bronzes and the road to restitution”

By Josh Spero and Aanu Adeoye, Financial Times

Wolfgang Kumm/Picture Alliance/Getty Images

Now and then, you read a story that weaves a neat narrative about the relationship between art and technology — a story that is as interesting as it is historically relevant. This report from the Financial Times is an excellent example. Nigeria has long battled to regain pieces of her history scattered and lost because of colonialism. The report dives deep into the efforts to recapture and present an accurate historical representation of the lost treasures of the Benin kingdom (located in present-day Edo State, Nigeria). It also explores how technology and data are coming together to make that reclamation possible while acknowledging the political, cultural, and technological complexities of this process. – David I. Adeleke, Africa editor

“Russia’s Republic of Grief”

By Nanna Heitmann and Keith Gessen, The New Yorker

While much of the media attention about the invasion of Ukraine has focused on the frontlines and battlegrounds, photographer Nanna Heitmann’s heartbreaking images from Dagestan, the impoverished Russian region that has lost the most men to the conflict, is a reminder that war’s cost extends far beyond the scene of the action. – Cengiz Yar, photo editor

“Latin American Migrants Use TikTok to Share Their Journeys to the U.S. Border”

By Rommel H. Ojeda and Lucía Cholakian Herrera, Documented

Inti Ocon/Getty Images

Recently, harrowing reports have covered the grueling journey that migrants undertake across Panama’s Darién Gap, the jungle crossing that connects South America to the path onwards to the U.S. This piece focuses on how migrants tell the tale of their journey through social media — and the benefits and drawbacks this approach holds. First-person accounts from the Gap reflect the real struggles migrants go through, but, by warning about the difficulties, other would-be migrants feel like these content creators are pulling up the migratory ladder behind them. One TikTok commenter’s rhetorical question — asking why “you are telling us not to go, but you are already on your way?” — illustrates the ethical complexities behind content creation, even when it is authentic and first-hand. – Alex González Ormerod, Latin America editor

“Worldcoin promised free crypto if they scanned their eyes with ‘the orb.’ Now they feel robbed.”

By Richard Nieva and Aman Sethi, Buzzfeed News

In a year of increasingly wild crypto stories, this investigation into the Sam Altman-founded cryptocurrency company Worldcoin still managed to make me go, “Wait, what?” Worldcoin promised to give people free crypto; all they had to do in return was have their irises scanned by a device named “the Orb,” supposedly to prevent anyone from claiming more than once. The crypto-giveaway efforts were particularly focused on low-income countries in Africa and Asia. Based on company documents and discussions with Orb operators, Nieva and Sethi unearthed discontent over Worldcoin’s operations and suspicion about its intentions — including that it could really be working on digital authentication. – Victoria Turk, features director

“The Prince: Searching for Xi Jinping”

By Sue-Lin Wong, The Economist

This narrative podcast tells a gripping story about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upbringing and rise to power, as well as the impact of his leadership. It not only digs deep into historical events that may have shaped the powerful leader’s thinking, but also looks at his rule from the perspective of his subjects, including a censorship whistleblower and a persecuted Uyghur family. It is a must-listen for those who are looking to understand today’s China. – Viola Zhou, China reporter

“How Malaysia Got in on the Secondhand Clothing Boom”

By Ezra Marcus, The New York Times 

Ian Teh/The New York Times/Red​ux

This is a really incisive investigation into the machinations of the global fashion industry, from high-end brands to bushels of discarded T-shirts, all centered around a peculiar observation: Why are so many of the best vintage resellers based in Malaysia? Thanks to our hyper-connected present, with near-global access to platforms like eBay, Grailed, and Etsy, a “simple arbitrage” is at play in a way that wouldn’t have been possible even a few years ago: “Nowadays, a given clothing item — say, a Nike hoodie — may be made in a factory in Taiwan or Bangladesh, sold to the United States, donated to Goodwill, shipped in a bale to Malaysia, and then sold back to the U.S.” – Hanson O’Haver, audience editor

“Sriram Krishnan: The Indian-American ‘helping’ Elon Musk run Twitter”

By Zoya Mateen, BBC

Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter was one of the biggest tech developments of 2022. During the weeks when the takeover and its impact were unfolding, a lot was written about the global implications. In the flood of those headlines, this story stood out for trying to bring a human angle — beyond the posterboy Musk — to what “new Twitter” could look like and stand for. Musk will, of course, have an outsized impact on where Twitter goes, but the people around him, especially those with tech skills, will play a crucial role in this journey. Krishnan seems to be among those leaders. Also, as an Indian, it’s always great to see someone from desi origins making it big, and Krishnan is just one more name in that illustrious and growing list. – Itika Sharma Punit, South Asia editor

“The Remote Control Killers Behind Russia’s Cruise Missile Strikes on Ukraine”

By Christo Grozev, Bellingcat

This impressive investigation into the Russian military unit responsible for missile attacks on Ukrainian civilians isn’t, on the face of it, a tech story. But how Bellingcat tracks down the people behind the strikes is. Read one way, their work — based in part on call records and other information available on Russia’s underground data markets — is a reminder of how much our smartphones know about us. – Kevin Schoenmakers, features editor

“The Root of Haiti’s Misery: Reparations to Enslavers”

By Catherine Porter, Constant Méheut, Matt Apuzzo, and Selam Gebrekidan, The New York Times

Federico Rios/The New York Times/Redux

Immense in scale, scope, and presentation, this investigation by The New York Times sets out to trace the parasitic relationship between France and Haiti back through more than 200 years. A story of that kind of historical depth can feel like, well, ancient history, but what I loved about it is how it meticulously traces policies enacted centuries ago to the modern era, identifying the families, companies, and banks that continue to profit from Haiti’s misery. The journalists never lose sight of the Haitians living through the legacy of those injustices, and their daily lived experience. – Michael Zelenko, deputy editor

“Human Touch”

By Karishma Mehrotra, Fifty Two

Mehrotra’s feature shows the AI labor force we often overlook. For this story, she met women in Indian towns and villages who label data to help train AI systems. It’s repetitive work, involving tasks such as marking the individual joints on images of human hands, but it’s essential for training algorithms to make sense of data and recognize patterns. For many of the women Mehrotra spoke to, however, data annotation is revolutionary not because of the technology it is enabling, but because it offers a new type of employment opportunity — one that allows them greater independence. – Victoria Turk, features director

“What a 2,000-mile journey around Afghanistan uncovers a year after the Taliban takeover”

By Jason Motlagh and Balazs Gardi, National Geographic

Photographer Balazs Gardi and writer Jason Motlagh traveled across Afghanistan to look at what the Taliban’s takeover meant a year later. Gardi, who spent years photographing the war in Afghanistan, captured a diverse view across the nation — from the fighters on guard to men toiling in coal mines. He spent time in maternity hospitals and poppy fields as the pair bumped along the 2,000 miles of road encircling the country. – Cengiz Yar, photo editor

“How Brazil’s far right ‘kidnapped’ the most famous shirt in football”

By Mauricio Alencar and Jack Lang, The Athletic

Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images

In Brazil, four years of build-up for two different events culminated in 2022 within weeks of each other: one of the country’s most defining presidential elections, in which far-right president Jair Bolsonaro was running for a second term, and the possibility of Brazil winning its sixth world champion title during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Bolsonaro ended up losing against leftist opponent Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and Brazil’s football team lost a penalty shoot-out against Croatia during the quarter-finals. This story, published mid-October, is almost a Venn diagram in which politics and soccer overlap on a single object: the national football team shirt. Yellow, beloved, and part of any Brazilian’s wardrobe, the shirt became a symbol of the far-right, weaponized by Bolsonaro’s supporters — including football star Neymar who helped ignite the controversy through his social media profiles — and created political tensions among fans of the most cherished sport in the country. – Daniela Dib, Latin America reporter

“TikTok profits from livestreams of families begging”

By Hannah Gelbart, Mamdouh Akbiek, and Ziad Al-Qattan, BBC

BBC reporters looked into how a network of TikTok livestreaming agents were using displaced families in Syrian camps to make money in the global attention economy. It’s an important example of how underprivileged groups are being exploited under new forms of social media businesses. – Viola Zhou, China reporter

“‘Putin Is a Fool’: Intercepted Calls Reveal Russian Army in Disarray”

By Yousur Al-Hlou, Masha Froliak, and Evan Hill, The New York Times

The rise and ubiquity of open-source intelligence (OSINT) was one of the more interesting tech narratives to emerge from Russia’s war in Ukraine. From day one, the Russian army’s operational security was so poor that soldiers’ photos, videos, and phone calls — made through unencrypted channels — offered observers, as well as the Ukrainian army, practically a real-time view of the battlefield. For this interactive story, The New York Times gathered, verified, and translated thousands of these candid phone calls made by Russian soldiers to their mothers, fathers, friends, and partners. Although similar recordings were floating around OSINT communities already, the stark and thoughtful way in which the Times presented these conversations underscored the absolute horror, confusion, cruelty, and senselessness of the war. – Michael Zelenko, deputy editor

“In Taobao Villages, Merchants Say They’re Struggling with Livestreaming”

By Wu Peiyue, Sixth Tone

Xinhua/Liu Xiao/Getty Images

Much tech reporting is urban, focusing on new apps popular among highly educated young people or those that only make sense in densely populated cities. But a look at how technology is changing rural life can be a real test of your assumptions. For years, the reasonable assumption was that e-commerce helped sellers in China’s faraway regions find customers. But with the rise of livestreaming, that is suddenly no longer the case. – Kevin Schoenmakers, features editor

“Tropic of violence”

By Tommaso Protti, Burn Magazine

Tommaso Protti’s long-term project walks through the pervasive violence gripping Brazil’s northern regions. Brazil leads the world in homicides, a statistic analysts attribute to a variety of factors including drug trafficking, impunity, and mass inequality. Protti’s stark images span the scenes of homicides, hit men, drug traffickers, and drug users, as well as the people living among the carnage. – Cengiz Yar, photo editor

“A factory line of terrors: TikTok’s African content moderators complain they were treated like robots, reviewing videos of suicide and animal cruelty for less than $3 an hour”

By Rosie Bradbury and Majd Al-Waheidi, Business Insider

Content moderators hired by third-party contractors are part of the invisible workforce of social media. Their work is difficult, and — fair warning — this piece includes descriptions of some examples of the horrific content that moderators have to review. Bradbury and Al-Waheidi spoke to Morocco-based moderators working on TikTok content through outsourcing company Majorel, many of whom complained of psychological distress caused by having to view such material, as well as by employers setting tough targets and surveilling them while they work. The piece is a strong reminder of the humans who power the tech we use every day. – Victoria Turk, features director