Future Tense Newsletter: Change Your Passwords After a Breakup

A couple takes a selfie in front of the Eiffel tower in Paris.

If you’re still using a Netflix login that belongs to the parents of your ex’s roommate, then you know how easy it is to stay digitally signed on to the past. But with the proliferation of internet-connected home devices and an increasing amount of our personal information left in digital trails online, changing your passwords and application permissions after a breakup needs to become common sense, argues Rachel Withers. You also might want to re-evaluate your security habits if you’re a PGP user. As Josephine Wolff explains, recent news of security vulnerabilities in the encrypted email program provides more evidence you should swap your encrypted email for more secure messaging services.

Speaking of untrustworthy tech, in a move that seems straight out of the plot out of this season’s Silicon Valley, reports suggest that Facebook is considering launching its own cryptocurrency. But with the current regulatory issues at play, explains Slate’s Aaron Mak, it could be a while until the company actually launches an ICO. Another institution that may want to get in on the blockchain train? The U.S. Census Bureau. As Elana Broitman writes, the agency could use the technology to help reduce undercounting in the 2020 household survey—a problem that often discounts millions in minority and poor communities.

Therapeutic apps offer another example of a promising new technology could help address a major societal problem. But how can you tell if they’re working? Researchers Jessica Lipschitz and John Torous explain why it’s so difficult to create a digital placebo, and what you should look for in a trustworthy health app. The guidelines are also worth a read as virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa seem poised to move into the at-home health care business.

Other things we read while enjoying the latest meme dividing the internet:

Speed dial spam: Robocalls are getting worse, so what will the Federal Communications Commission do to fix it? Aaron Mak explores what new legal protections the agency might consider to replace the Obama-era ones Chairman Ajit Pai reversed.

Ridin’ dirty: Who will clean self-driving taxis? You might not want to think about what happens when the passenger before you pukes in your autonomous Uber. But lucky for you, Meredith Broussard wades into the potentially sticky future.

Return of the drones: Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration granted ten new testing grounds permission to fly delivery drones. April Glaser reports on what the same project that brought us ’coptered Chipotle burritos could bring next.

Search barred: Google and Amazon were once champions of the free internet, but a new technical change is making it harder for people in repressive countries to use their services.

Reading over your shoulder,

Tonya Riley

For Future Tense

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