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TikTok, QAnon and RBG

TikTok, QAnon and RBG

Good morning! This Sunday, your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from the latest on TikTok and QAnon to the grandma that broke the internet.

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As always, let me know what you think, and what you'd like to see more of in our weekend edition. I'm, or you can just reply to this email. Thanks! Onto the good stuff.

Best of Protocol

Oracle pushed Section 230 reform to spite Amazon and Google. Then came its deal with TikTok, by Emily Birnbaum

  • There are so many angles to the politicking involved in the TikTok acquisition that was finally announced last night, and you should definitely read our analysis of the new deal. But Emily's story from earlier in the week captures one important subtlety: Never underestimate how quickly a company's politics and beliefs can change when its business interests do.

"Interactive entertainment is the standard bearer of the entertainment business," by Seth Schiesel

  • Come for the thoughtful conversation about game-streaming, app stores and entertainment, stay for Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick's compelling case for why video games are about to get more expensive. "The bottom line is that we haven't seen a front-line price increase for nearly 15 years, and production costs have gone up 200 to 300%. But more to the point since no one really cares what your production costs are, what consumers are able to do with the product has completely changed."

How Facebook wants to avoid the next AR/VR backlash, by Janko Roettgers

  • Google Glass will go down in history as one of the all-time cautionary tales in tech, a lesson in what happens when you let technology get ahead of real life. Facebook seems to understand this well – which you'd have to, because the word "Facebook" causes about as much consternation as Glassholes once did — but there are good lessons here for any company in how to invent the future carefully.

Big Tech spent millions to close California's digital divide this year. It's hardly making a dent, by Issie Lapowsky

  • Lots of companies and politicians have made promises to help fix the digital divide, which has been made more obvious than ever with kids forced to attend school from home. But as Issie found, many of those promises haven't come to fruition in a meaningful enough way to actually solve the problem.

What it's like to actually use Honeywell's new quantum computer, by Mike Murphy

  • Quantum computing is kind of like 5G: The idea that "it's so much more powerful" feels important but hard to understand in real life. Even the companies building quantum computers, it turns out, are still figuring out exactly what they're for. But Mike's firsthand experience offers some insight into how, exactly, these more powerful machines are going to work.



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.

Best of Everything Else 

The Forbes cloud 100

  • Is it cheating to make Snowflake your #1 private cloud company hours before it has the biggest software IPO of all time? A little. But Forbes' list still makes up a pretty neat Rolodex of companies in tech you should know about. If you're looking for partners, acquisitions or good product ideas to steal for your own, this is a good place to start.

Facebook needs Trump even more than Trump needs Facebook — Bloomberg Businessweek

  • This story sparked some backlash, particularly the cover showing Mark with a MAGA hat on. But it's a deep, thorough dive into a relationship that is both perfectly symbiotic and frequently antagonistic. What do you do when your most problematic user is also your most important one, and has made clear that he won't hesitate to cause you trouble? That question is getting more urgent every day.

A new look for Spark — Spark Capital

  • It's not very often that someone's design sketches would make this list, but Biz Stone's branding bona fides are pretty well-established by now. So it's fun to flip through the deck he made for Spark Capital, urging the firm to take on a dog as its new mascot. Also, I think all decks should start with a pencil-drawn self-portrait of the presenter.

6 red flags I saw while doing 60+ technical interviews in 30 days —

  • The way the tech industry hires needs to change. The industry's diversity challenges prove it, but the new realities of remote work, no-code tech tools and so many other things are changing what it means and what it takes to work in tech. After Uduak Obong-Eren wrote about what he learned from 60+ technical interviews, he took a look at all the flaws it showed him in the process.

QAnon explained with NBC's Ben Collins — Recode Media

  • QAnon continues to be more than an internet phenomenon and more than a conspiracy theory. It's this sprawling, unstoppable monster of a thing, big and weird enough to consume everything that happens even when it seems to prove QAnon wrong. This is a good dive into the state of things, how we got here, and why you can't ignore Q anymore.


Ashkhen Kazaryan, TechFreedom

Hardly anybody knows exactly what's been happening with TikTok, but Ashkhen Kazaryan knows more than most. She's director of civil liberties and a legal research fellow at TechFreedom, a think tank focused on policy and legal questions in tech.

She came on this week's Source Code Podcast to talk about the TikTok acquisition saga, her longstanding questions about TikTok and China, and whether any progress is being made in the midst of all this craziness. She also, as always, told us about a few of the things she's into and interested in right now.

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "As I was about to turn to writing this the news broke of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passing. After the initial shock passed and grief set in, I turned to reading the Harvard Law essays in her honor that were published in 2013 to celebrate 20 years of RBG on the bench. May the love and respect for Justice Bader Ginsburg heal our country."
  • "The twenty-six words that created the internet," by Jeff Kosseff. "I've read this book so many times by now that I can recall most of the content by heart. But as someone who has spent almost half a decade working on Section 230 and content moderation policy, this book has become my safe place when a Senator or a random person on Twitter says 'You gotta pick if you are a platform or a publisher.' PSA: you don't. Read the law. Read the book."
  • Birthdays! "I am Armenian from Russia living in DC and I miss home a lot and in many different ways. During my birthday week it's manifesting in family brunch on Zoom to celebrate, surprise videos from friends all over the world sent via WhatsApp and answering heartwarming messages on FaceTime, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I am so grateful for being able to work in tech policy, defending civil liberties and freedoms online for the world to stay connected even when we are far apart."
  • The Wind of Change Podcast. "Scorpions didn't write 'Wind of Change,' CIA did. (ALLEGEDLY.) For someone who was born in 1991 as the USSR was collapsing in front of my parents' eyes, that song was the soundtrack of my family's history, the nation's history. This podcast not only pieced together the story of how that happened, it also covered the fascinating intersection between the music industry, CIA and foreign policy."
  • "Half as interesting" on YouTube. "Especially this video, on how a grandma broke all of Armenia's internet."



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. Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to, or our tips line, Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

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