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Misinformation, music and metaverses

Misinformation, music and metaverses

Good morning! This Sunday, here's your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from the power of misinformation on Facebook to Pandora's arduous battle with the music business.

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Best of Protocol

The most engaging political news on Facebook? Far-right misinformation, by Issie Lapowsky

  • It always felt obvious, but a new study put numbers to the feeling: Far-right pages trading in misinformation picked up 65% more engagement per follower than other far-right pages not spreading misinformation. Forget the left-right divide, this is the true-false divide.

Microsoft's master plan for consumer AR: Start with the plumbing, by Janko Roettgers

  • Roblox is going public on March 10. (Here's everything you need to know about that.) And it's just one of the companies trying to figure out how to build digital worlds. Microsoft ultimately wants to build every part of the metaverse — it owns Minecraft and Xbox and HoloLens, after all — but its most consequential play might be to build new infrastructure underneath those new worlds.

Social commerce has taken over China. Can it do the same overseas? By Shen Lu

  • Who are the key opinion leaders in your industry? Answering that question has been key to the success of some of China's biggest social-commerce players, which are also solving new kinds of marketing and supply-chain problems in the process. Their playbook is one every American company should be studying.

Jack Dorsey is so money: What Tidal and banking do for Square, by Ben Pimentel, Tomio Geron and Janko Roettgers

  • In the span of a couple of days, Square launched a full-fledged bank and bought a music streaming service. Because it's tech, why not! Put together, though, the two moves actually point toward a much bigger vision for Square, as a company that wants to redefine what counts as a small business and what it means to help them.

What Okta's CEO learned from Marc Benioff, by Tom Krazit

  • No, it's not to say "ohana" a lot. On the day Okta announced its $6.5 billion acquisition of Auth0, Todd McKinnon spoke to Tom about learning how to bet big … and to always bet on the cloud. Plus, a leadership lesson from Benioff: "He was so good at painting the long-term vision that seemed a little grandiose and crazy, but had a way of catalyzing people toward it."

'This could be dangerous': Why Tim Wu's appointment has Big Tech rattled, by Emily Birnbaum

  • Wu's new role as a special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy means he'll be on the front lines of figuring out what the tech industry should look like — and he comes with a set of opinions that make a lot of people nod vigorously, and a lot of other people shake their heads. This definitely won't be boring.



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.

RSVP for this event.

Best of Everything Else

How to build an artificial heart — The New Yorker

  • A lot of people in tech will see this story as a challenge. For all our talk of bioengineering and a cyborg future, we still understand very little about how humans actually work. Every little bit more we learn can be literally life-changing.

How Pandora won its royalty battle but lost the war to Spotify — Vice

  • The title of this story could easily be "How Pandora walked so Spotify could run." It's a fun time-warp back through a decade of the music industry, as Pandora poured everything into changing the way the industry works — and killed its chances in the process.

Google's approach to historically Black schools helps explain why there are few Black engineers in Big Tech — The Washington Post

  • HBCUs, as we've covered a few times here at Protocol, are a key part of how tech can become a more diverse, inclusive, equitable industry. But it won't just magically happen. This is a good look at how Google has approached HBCU recruiting, how it underinvested even as it claimed to be all-in and what a better path forward might look like.

The 25-year-old billionaire building the future of self-driving cars — The Verge

  • This is a great interview with Austin Russell, the CEO of Luminar, on where autonomous vehicles are headed and when they're going to be everywhere. (Spoiler alert: not soon.) He's also smart on what it takes to run and scale a company, and why hiring people with more experience isn't always the right move.

Here is the article you can send to people when they say "but the environmental issues with cryptoart will be solved soon, right?" — Medium

  • This is the energy-based case against cryptocurrency, in one long primal scream of a Medium post. And its author, Everest Pipkin, isn't wrong: A lot of people just assume that blockchain is the future, and eventually we'll solve the energy problems. But it's not that simple.

Amazon union is a tough sell in town where $15 an hour goes a long way — Bloomberg

  • One of the better dissections I've read about why unionizing is complicated, why even the people who want the union don't always agree about what it should be and what it really costs the people who fight for it in the first place.

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Today's Source Code was written by David Pierce. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to, or our tips line, Enjoy your day; see you tomorrow.

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