Future Tense

Future Tense Newsletter: If It Can Happen to the World’s Richest Man …

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 15:  Jeff Bezos speaks onstage at WIRED25 Summit: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Tech Icons Of The Past & Future on October 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25  )
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Greetings, Future Tensers,

From revenge porn to sextortion, the advent of social media has been a boon for cybercrimes involving hacking and the nonconsensual sharing of pornographic images. Though most victims of sextortion schemes don’t have the power and money of billionaire Jeff Bezos, April Glaser argues that the Amazon CEO’s move to use his privilege to very publicly confront his blackmailers may help show others just how pervasive this problem is. But will demonstrating that even the world’s richest man can fall prey to this kind of threat finally push tech companies and law enforcement to start taking victims seriously?


Elsewhere on Future Tense, we’ve been looking at how the rest of the world has been dealing with social media. Tamara Evdokimova explains how we’re not entirely sure if Google recently started to comply with Russian demands from state censors. Samm Sacks and Lorand Laskai discuss how China is having an unexpected privacy awakening. And Rebecca Heilweil looks at how Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix show uses comedy to put a spotlight on the ways big Silicon Valley platforms perpetuate injustices worldwide.


Other things we read while bird-watching in Central Park:

Nervous laughter: Will Oremus explains how all those Super Bowl ads about robots show us that our fear of A.I. is being redirected into satire.

Uncoordinated: When a bunch of Amazon employees sent suspiciously similar tweets criticizing efforts by fulfillment center workers to unionize, Aaron Mak decided to investigate.


There’s an app for that? Charles Kenny explains the app Apple and Google are hosting that lets Saudi men control where women under their guardianship can travel.

Unchained: Trust is key for blockchain technology. So what can advocates do to win it from users who are still wary?

Harvested: Faine Greenwood explains why humanitarians are worried about an infamous big data firm’s new partnership with a major U.N. relief agency.

Alt-right swag: Those looking to rep their favorite alt-right groups, fascist slogans, and lib-baiting on T-shirts and hats may be out of luck: Square, Chase, and PayPal have all recently pulled their payment services from the Proud Boys’ e-commerce store.

To the new period emoji,

Anthony Nguyen

For Future Tense

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

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society.