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Future Tense Newsletter: But Our Emails

Greetings, Future Tensers,


With the ongoing investigation into Russia’s intrusion into the 2016 elections, we’re more aware than ever of the specter of foreign attacks on electoral and campaign data. To make the hacks of candidate information—such as the pilfered emails from the Clinton campaign, DCCC, and DNC that Russian operatives leveraged the last election cycle—less damaging, some political leaders recently proposed a sort of bipartisan cease-fire on using hacked materials this time around. But last week, a potential agreement on this between the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fell through. Josephine Wolff explained why such an agreement was never actually going to reduce campaign hacking attempts and the unintended consequences of attempting to impose such blackouts.

Elsewhere on Slate, we’ve been covering how certain recent attempts to regulate online commerce and marketing may be doing more harm than good. Ethan McLeod wrote about how Maryland’s painfully slow mandatory cannabis-tracking software, which tracks patient prescription and purchase history at every sale, is bogging down the medicinal-marijuana industry. Jacob Grier described how the Federal Drug Administration’s move to restrict how manufacturers are allowed to market e-cigarettes is actually causing the public to misunderstand the relative risks between vaping versus conventional cigarette smoking. And Quinn DuPont explains how Facebook’s efforts to fight misinformation on its advertising platform might actually have the opposite effect.

Other things we read while we proudly displayed hundreds of browser tabs we have open:

Schooled: Sydney Johnson reveals how electric-scooter companies are now targeting college campuses with greater success than their rollouts in metropolitan cities.


The Scrabbler: Aaron Mak gives us his take on the most telling tidbits from the recent New Yorker profile of the notoriously press-shy Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, including details about his competitive nature.

Whodunit: As the now-infamous anonymous New York Times op-ed made waves in the press last week, Heather Schwedel covered how it also captivated people of a certain age, who made humorous efforts online and off to find the author.

Tech support: When disaster strikes, traditional first responders—law enforcement, rescue workers, medical personnel, firefighters—are the ones we picture at the immediate scene. As Vivian Graubard and Kavi Harshawat explain, we should also expand our notion of first responders to include technologists.

Breadcrumbs: April Glaser hunted down the Twitter bots that amplified the fringe conspiracy theory QAnon in its mysterious early days.


Anthony Nguyen

For Future Tense

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