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Who’s really in charge here?

Who’s really in charge here?

Your five-minute guide to the best of Protocol (and the internet) from the week that was, from a messy fight about internet privacy to the history and influence of Black Twitter.

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Best of Protocol

Concern trolls and power grabs: Inside Big Tech's angry, geeky, often petty war for your privacy, by Issie Lapowsky

  • The W3C tries to govern the internet by consensus, bringing everyone along for the ride. When it comes to privacy, that hasn't worked so well. This is a deep look at what privacy means, why it's so hard to agree on and whose job it really is to keep users safe. It's all messy.

Red Vs are after China's queer community, by Shen Lu

  • WeChat started shutting down accounts related to the LGBTQ+ community in China, and nobody could figure out why. In trying to get answers, queer activists found themselves in the crosshairs of the Red Vs, ultra-nationalistic influencers wanting to silence them even further.

Why Netflix is getting serious about video games, by Nick Statt

  • Big week for gaming news! But Netflix getting into the space is really one to watch. Many entertainment companies have tried to crack gaming, and most have failed expensively and spectacularly. But if anyone can pull it off, it might be Netflix.

Facebook and Amazon want Khan's recusal at the FTC. What now? by Ben Brody

  • Lina Khan's FTC appointment was celebrated as a win for trustbusters everywhere. Big Tech companies are using that as evidence that she's not a fair authority and has it in for them. And they want her off their case. (Spoiler alert: It's probably not going to work.)

Tiger vs. SoftBank: Inside the investing playbooks that upended Silicon Valley, by Biz Carson

  • SoftBank caused a shockwave in Silicon Valley by being loud, rich, brash, loud and rich. Tiger Global is doing the same with a much quieter operation but similarly eye-popping amounts of money. And it's throwing the VC world for yet another loop.


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Best of Everything Else

A People's History of Black Twitter, Part I — Wired

  • Want to know how culture is created online? You can't find a better or more powerful example than Black Twitter, which is responsible for so much of the way the platform — and the internet as a whole — works now. This is a really great oral history of the network.

The Truth Behind the Amazon Mystery Seeds — The Atlantic

  • In 2020, packets of unidentified seeds started showing up in people's mailboxes. The story is classic internet: a relatively mundane ecommerce question that turned into both a conspiracy theory and a deeply complicated question about globalization and the future. It's also just a really fun read.

Beyond Silicon Valley — Rest of World

  • This is a great rundown of six cities — Lagos, Recife, Bengaluru, Shenzhen, Tel Aviv and Medellin — that are both copying the Silicon Valley playbook and shaping the tech world in their own image.

'Welcome to the Mesh, Brother': Guerrilla Wi-Fi Comes to New York — The New York Times

  • Here's one way to bridge the digital divide: get a bunch of volunteers together and build a Wi-Fi network of your own. The NYC Mesh project is just one of many examples of communities figuring out how to get online and an idea that can and should grow fast.

The next big social network trend? Shortform audio — The Verge

  • We here at Source Code have been banging this drum for a while now: Audio is the next big thing. (The industry sort of jumped over it on its way to video, and is only now realizing what it missed.) This is a good sweep of the industry, and why bite-sized audio in particular could be big.

Can Silicon Valley Find God? — The New York Times

  • The conflicts and questions about religion and technology have been floating around Silicon Valley forever. But as AI becomes more powerful and more prevalent, it's forcing both sides to ask new kinds of questions, not just about religion but also about history and tradition and life before computers. How do these things coexist? Can they?


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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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