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How friction could save the internet

Image: Protocol
Twitter stop signs

Good morning! This Monday, Twitter makes it harder to use Twitter, tech and media continue to clash, and Google might have to sell Chrome.

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The Big Story

Twitter embraces slow social

Twitter did the unthinkable on Friday: It made it harder to tweet. Retweeting something that's been labeled as problematic now triggers a prompt urging you to read accurate information before you share. And then only quote-tweets are allowed.

  • Twitter said it aims to "increase context and encourage more thoughtful consideration," corporate-speak for "we want to slow you down."
  • Interestingly, if you don't type anything in the quote tweet box, it'll still show up on your timeline like a regular tweet. Twitter's not killing the RT, just making you think twice before you do it.

I think Harvard's Evelyn Douek put it best: "Everything here is thinking outside the take-down/leave-up false binary of content moderation and that's excellent. Friction, baby!" The team at Twitter has arguably done a better job than any other in social of interrogating the way its own product works and how it can subtly tweak it.

Another potentially precedent-setting change: Twitter will no longer put tweets from people you don't follow into your timeline, with the "so and so liked" message you've surely seen. "This will likely slow down how quickly tweets from accounts and topics you don't follow can reach you," Twitter said, "which we believe is a worthwhile sacrifice to encourage more thoughtful and explicit amplification."

Twitter's only committing to these changes through the election, but the underlying issues here won't change overnight on Nov. 4. If it's serious about changing the nature of the conversations on Twitter, the company's going to make most of these tweaks permanent.

As always, the question will be execution. Can Twitter find this stuff fast enough and reliably enough for its well-intentioned systems to work? Can any company do that? The next three weeks are going to be a heck of a test.

Regulation

Who's next on the EU's radar?

So far, regulatory bodies have focused mainly on four companies: Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. Now the Financial Times reports that EU regulators are set to add to that list, putting together a "hit list" of up to 20 companies that will face "tougher regulation than smaller competitors."

  • The Big Four will surely be on there. I suspect Microsoft, Uber, Tencent and Alibaba qualify as well. The list itself will be a fascinating look at how regulators understand power in the tech industry.

I'm also curious who you'd put on the list. It's a fun thought exercise: If you could pick 20 companies deserving of extra scrutiny and regulation, who would you want to be sure was on there? If you email me, I'll share everyone's thoughts later this week: david@protocol.com, or just reply to this email.

Media

'Founders: go direct.'

The ongoing Tech vs. Tech Media spat flared up again over the weekend, with Suhail Doshi, Michael Arrington, Jason Calacanis and a handful of others continuing to argue that tech folks should think differently about the media.

  • "Founders: go direct," Doshi tweeted. "Use your network. Don't engage. Don't let the tech media paywall your great content. Don't let them twist your words. Don't answer their questions. Don't waste your money on a pricey PR agency. Build your own audience, brick by brick. It's more sustainable."
  • The whole thing started up again because some tech folks really, really didn't like that Washington Post story about Silicon Valley's political and cultural clash.

This is one of those times where two things can be true: Direct marketing and journalism have coexisted for a long time! The whole conversation actually seems to be about something different, which is how tech companies tell their story to the public.

I don't want to litigate the debate itself, largely because it's gotten ugly and mean and mostly off-track on all sides. Also I'm obviously biased! (Please send me all your tips and story ideas.) But the trend here is clear.

  • Tech companies have been hiring journalists for years, and many are finding that great blogs, great Instagram accounts and great influencer strategies — ones that don't just look like company ads — are a surprisingly good growth engine.
  • Jason Calacanis, who was earlier to this idea than most in tech, tweeted that "I have more folks listening to my podcast than almost every other outlet I appear on … more folks at my events than ones I get paid to speak at!"

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

Stronger care … from more efficient operations

In a defining moment for healthcare, it's even more crucial to deliver patient-centered care efficiently. At Philips, we are committed to providing intelligent, automated workflows that seek to improve patient care. More efficient healthcare means stronger, more resilient healthcare.

Learn more.

People Are Talking

Lucid Motors is following — and hopefully improving on — the Tesla playbook, CEO Peter Rawlinson said:

  • "I would love to be making a more affordable car right now. We just can't do that as a new company. But we can start with a high-end product, with a modest factory, and gradually move to more affordable segments of the market."

Your Twitter thread of the week: All the replies to Senate candidate Lauren Witzke, who said that "most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies."

  • My favorite came from Slice's Sar Haribhakti: "Brb looking up who runs Mastercard, Adobe, Google [and] Microsoft"

Paul Graham has a theory about the next Big Tech company:

  • "I'm going to risk calling it. The feeling of deja vu is too strong. Stripe is the next Google."

Coming Up This Week

Apple's "Hi, Speed" event is Tuesday. 5G iPhones! HomePods! AirPods? Apple TVs? All I know is I hope "Ted Lasso" is involved. Either way, watch it here.

Conference season continues: The GeekWire Summit, Fortune's MPW NextGen, Black Tech Fest and DevNet Create are all running this week.

In Other News

  • The DOJ may force Google to sell Chrome, POLITICO reports. The department is also considering making the company sell part of its adtech business, though no decisions have been made yet. Meanwhile, Google is turning YouTube into a shopping platform, which I'm sure won't annoy anyone at all.
  • Amazon pulled the plug on Crucible, its free-to-play shooter video game. Of the three big games Amazon announced in 2016, two have now been canceled. (Now's a great time to read our story on why Amazon can't crack games.)
  • John Stankey is lobbying against the Pentagon's national 5G network plans, The Wall Street Journal reports. The AT&T CEO reportedly visited the White House last month to push back against the proposals, which could undermine cell phone carriers' business models.
  • Microsoft is letting more employees permanently work from home. Most employees can work remotely for up to 50% of the week, The Verge reports, and managers can approve permanent WFH. Salaries will be adjusted for employees' locations, though.
  • Mental health apps have become a key perk this year. Headspace and Calm have both seen a surge in demand, CNBC reports, as companies take out subscriptions for their employees.
  • Fortnite is staying off the App Store. Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers refused to grant an injunction that would stop Apple from banning the app, though she did prevent Apple from retaliating against Epic's Unreal Engine. That means nothing will change until a full trial, unless Epic decides to remove its payment mechanism from the app.
  • People don't seem keen to acquire Quibi. The Information reports that Jeffrey Katzenberg approached Apple's Eddy Cue, WarnerMedia's Jason Kilar and Facebook's Fidji Simo about a sale, but none of them was interested. The app reportedly has fewer than 500,000 paying subscribers.
  • Every tech company has moderation problems, example No. 53173: Peloton removed QAnon hashtags.

One More Thing

The Bay Area's new sports juggernaut

The Warriors are so 2019. The 49ers are all injured. The new hottest team in Silicon Valley? The San Francisco Shock, newly crowned as back-to-back champions of the Overwatch League. You can rewatch the Grand Finals, which were a pretty epic four hours.

A MESSAGE FROM PHILIPS

Philips

Stronger care … from more efficient operations

In a defining moment for healthcare, it's even more crucial to deliver patient-centered care efficiently. At Philips, we are committed to providing intelligent, automated workflows that seek to improve patient care. More efficient healthcare means stronger, more resilient healthcare.

Learn more.

Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce, with help from Shakeel Hashim. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to david@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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