Distressed

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What’s the point of the app? Is Facebook simply looking for another way to bring like-minded individuals together? Is the company trying to offer users a glimmer of hope in these uncertain times? Or are they really just stirring the pot in an already volatile climate?
Facebook this week announced an experimental app called Forecast that focuses on crowdsourced predictions.

Forecast allows participants to pose questions about the future, make predictions and discuss the topic at hand with others. Out of the gate, making predictions and participating in conversations will be limited to invited community members using the iOS version of the app in the US and Canada although all content will be publicly available on the Forecast website and shareable across other platforms.

Facebook’s intentions here aren’t entirely clear and the company seemingly admitted as much in its announcement. Product lead Rebecca Kossnick had the following to say about Forecast:

People are increasingly searching for information to help them understand what the world might look like tomorrow, next month, and beyond. We believe that a community built around predictions is not only a good way to surface crowdsourced wisdom, but may also help to encourage healthier online conversations across a broad range of topics.

But, is that really the case? Considering how much we’ve heard about social media as a platform to spread misinformation as of late, is it really a good idea to have people creating potentially baseless predictions and inviting others to discuss (argue over) them?

Kossnick reiterated that Forecast is still in its very early stages, adding that Facebook is still working to polish the experience and understand the quality and value of the forecasts themselves.

People in the health, research and academic communities are being invited to discuss predictions about the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the world at large. If interested, you are encouraged to request access to the Forecast beta testers Facebook group where you can join a waitlist in hopes of being selected to participate.