Future Tense newsletter: A moment of reckoning for Facebook.

Future Tense Newsletter: A Moment of Reckoning for Facebook

Future Tense Newsletter: A Moment of Reckoning for Facebook

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 16 2016 2:10 PM

Future Tense Newsletter: A Moment of Reckoning for Facebook

Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg

David Ramos/Getty Images

Greetings, Future Tensers,

Are you still scratching your head wondering how Donald Trump was elected? Lots of people are blaming Facebook—particularly fake news on the site. This week Will Oremus explored allegations that Facebook tolerated fake news in response to accusations of liberal bias. But the real problem, Oremus wrote, is CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s denial of Facebook’s role in spreading misinformation. Ultimately, we’ll probably never know for sure whether Facebook is to blame for Trump’s election but, as Jefferson Pooley explains, Facebook might be to blame for that, too.


In another Facebook fail, Mark Joseph Stern writes that he posted on the site a death threat he had received, to show people what he and others are experiencing—only for Facebook to take down it down.

In better social media news, Twitter has released a timely new feature to fight harassment. It’s not perfect, says Kate Klonick, but it’s progress. If only there were a tool to prevent sexual harassment on virtual reality platforms. (Or perhaps we could try some human decency?)

If you would like to get your mind off the election, I suggest you catch up on our November Futurography course: “Who Controls the Internet?” This past week, Hao Wu wrote about the live-streaming revolution in China, and Charles Kenney explained that the main concern of most of the world’s internet users is not, in fact, net neutrality.

The stories we read this week while getting schooled on social media include:

  • Standing Rock: Are you wondering what the AT&T–Time Warner merger has to do with the protests at Standing Rock? You should—and New America’s Greta Byrum has your answer.
  • The philosopher: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s way of thinking paved the way for the information age that blossomed 250 years after his death.
  • Civilization VI: Jacob Brogan explores how the blockbuster video game franchise got the science right in its latest installment.


  • Join David Biello, author of The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth’s Newest Age, for a happy hour event in Washington, D.C., tonight—yes, Wednesday night—to discuss his book about the men and women around the world working to create a better future in the face of climate change. RSVP here. (And you can read an excerpt from his book here.)
  • On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Future Tense is convening experts in Washington, D.C., to consider how new technologies should be deployed to prevent crime, protect our rights, and improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they are meant to protect and serve. RSVP to join the conversation in person or online here.
  • RESCHEDULED: Will the internet always be American? On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Future Tense will host a live event in Washington, D.C., to explore the internet’s nationality, and the extent to which it’s an expression of American culture, and how that may be changing. You can RSVP to attend in person or watch online here.

Farming the ocean,
Emily Fritcke
for Future Tense

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

Emily Fritcke is a research associate for Future Tense.