Future Tense

Future Tense Newsletter: The Truth Is Out There

A Star Wars fan dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi ahead of the European premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Dec. 16, 2015, in London.

Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images

Greetings, Future Tensers,

The Federal Communications Commission has officially pulled the plug on net neutrality, but internet activists have just begun to fight back. At least nine states are planning on suing over the ruling and even Luke Skywalker himself got up in arms when Ajit Pai tried to use the Force for evil. Congress is also looking to challenge the decision—though Republicans cozied up with communications companies could prove a threat.

But while we were distracted by net neutrality, you might have missed that the Federal Election Commission decided to do something good. As April Glaser reports, the FEC has now clarified that like television and print ads, most online political ads must have a disclaimer about who purchased them. As the share of campaign budgets spent on online advertising skyrockets (candidates spent more than $1.4 billion in 2016), this move could make major political waves. Twitter also started to do some good by beginning to enforce stricter hate speech policies, resulting in a purge of white nationalist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Muslim accounts.

In more Earth-shattering news, the New York Times broke a story this weekend that the Pentagon has spent $22 million investigating UFOs. Jacob Brogan argues, however, that we should be investing defense resources in hiding from aliens instead of trying to make contact. More important than if aliens are actually real is the imaginative power space continues to provide us, Joey Eschrich and Ed Finn discuss.

Other things we read while conspiring about aliens:

  • 2017 in searches: How did Matt Lauer make it on to Google’s annual “Year in Search” list but not Donald Trump? Lila Thulin breaks it down.
  • The Talk 2.0: Priya Kumar explains how to teach your kids about privacy and security online beyond simple stranger-danger warnings.
  • Digital rights are human rights: In 2017, online rights are critical to global freedom.
  • World Wide Web crisis: Hija Kamran explains how the FCC’s decision to kill net neutrality could hurt the cause of digital rights activists in Pakistan who are seeking to end content prioritization in the country.
  • Dark money: State governments have started seizing bitcoin from dark web criminals.
  • Space billboards: A Japanese company has raised $90 million to advertise on the moon, but is it legal? Neel V. Patel provides answers.
  • Facebook doesn’t need your friends to tag you to recognize your face. Is it a privacy concern?

See you in 2018,
Tonya Riley
For Future Tense

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.