Meet the SPAC king
Image: JD Lasica / Protocol
Good morning and happy International Women's Day! Hope you had a great weekend. My wife got vaccinated, so I'm calling mine a win. Anyway, this Monday: a deep look at how tech is fighting domestic online extremism, what you need to know about Chamath Palihapitiya, the latest hack every company needs to deal with, and Jack Dorsey's $2.5 million tweet.
Social media companies are finally cracking down on domestic extremism on their platforms. But why now? Was it really as simple as the end of the Trump administration? Not exactly. Protocol's Issie Lapowsky found in a deep look at the history of content moderation and political machinations at Facebook, Twitter and Google.
Tech companies first started to work together on extremist content and its moderation in a serious, measurable way after political pressure from the Obama administration to counter the "ISIS threat."
But tech companies haven't stamped out domestic extremism. That's partly because of political interests (read: Trump), but mainly because of War on Terror politics, the tangled nature of domestic extremism — it's easier to target a group called "ISIS" than a vague collection of ideologues — and even a plain lack of technological capability.
In fact, progress on domestic extremism has been painfully slow. The first turning point for Facebook et al was the extremist violence during the 2017 Charlottesville rally, which was planned in public on Facebook.
And there's a huge amount still to do. "This isn't over," Facebook's Brian Fishman told Issie. "This is going to be with us for a long time." To find out more about what that looks like, go read Issie's story.
Nobody defines the current moment in tech — frothy markets, big personalities, cryptocurrencies, SPACs, fighting for a more responsible future — better than Chamath Palihapitiya. In the last 12 months, he's ascended to first-name-only status. He is simply Chamath.
The Wall Street Journal published a profile of Chamath over the weekend, and it's full of fun details:
The Journal's story makes Chamath out to be a brilliant marketer and pitchman, who has figured out how to both grow an audience (fitting, for the former head of growth at Facebook) and use that audience to make a fortune. But it also points to a few signs — the Clover Health fiasco chief among them — that fast talk can only get you so far.
In related news: Don't miss the story everyone was tweeting about this weekend, "How to become an intellectual in Silicon Valley."
The latest in a string of huge hacks just keeps getting bigger. The Hafnium attack affected somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 organizations, and as many as 250,000 individual users.
Quick catch-up: Last week, it became public that a Chinese cyber espionage group named Hafnium used a series of exploitable holes in Microsoft Exchange Server software to get complete access to devices and data from all those users.
Microsoft has patched the holes — if you haven't, you need to update, like, now — but warned that updating might not be enough for organizations who are already infected. It built a scanning tool to help those companies find out.
The hackers' motivations aren't clear yet. And there are plenty of questions about what the Chinese government would want with a huge trove of random employees' email. But the potential fallout is big enough that even the White House is talking about it pretty seriously.
As more companies look to digitize their operations, developers are becoming even more central to the business. Join Protocol's Tom Krazit and Joe Williams in conversation with Google Cloud's Amit Zavery and Webee's Cecilia Flores. This event is presented by Intel.
There's no such thing as an "internal startup" at a big tech company, Hunter Walk said:
Caring about product isn't the same as caring about design, a former Amazon designer said:
Googlers are unionizing in part because they want to know more about what their work is actually being used for, Chewy Shaw said:
Incoming Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon said the chip shortage isn't going away, and it's stressing him out:
Roblox's direct listing is set for Wednesday. Keep an eye on this one both for clues about the gaming market and for a sense of how close investors think we are to a full-on metaverse.
Reporting earnings this week: Oracle, Asana and MongoDB.
By one definition, definitely: Jack Dorsey is selling an NFT version of his "just setting up my twttr" tweet from 2006, and the bidding is already at $2.5 million with plenty of time left on the clock. (The highest bidder appears to be Sina Estavi, the CEO of Bridge Oracle and the highest bidder on a number of other tweets too.) Is it worth more in the grand scheme of things than Elon Musk's "funding secured" tweet, or the one where he sent dogecoin to the moon? Probably not. But in the sense that all you're really buying is a screenshot, this one might be tough to top.
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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Anna Kramer and Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com, or our tips line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.