Forecast app is a new Facebook project which the company is launching to build a community around predictions. There will be an iOS version of the project which will let users ask questions and be able to use in-app points to make predictions about what might happen in the near future. Users of the Forecast application will also be able to create, discuss and view other people’s prediction basically a crowdsourced platform.
Participants from the U.S. as well as Canada will be allowed to make predictions as well as engage in conversations while the application is in Beta phase. The U.S. and Canada beta participants will only be invited as it’s not opened to the general public at that phase just yet. The predictions and other relating discuss will be made publicly available on the Forecast website and can be shared across the web.
Before today, Facebook tested the Forecast app internally with a small set of employees. Their initial forecasts will form the initial core content in the app at launch.
Invitees will be from the health, research and academic communities to make predictions about social issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s impact on the world in general. Facebook has been under criticism as it’s been alleged to be aiding the spread of misinformation over it’s platform including propaganda, fake news, conspiracy theories and other non-factual content which are being posted as true news.
With the Forecast in place, it will allow people to know how others are thinking. One difference between the Facebook Forecast app and scientific facts is that the latter is initially based on hypothesis which is formed by scientists based on educated guesses and then they experiment, test as well as gather important and useful data to prove or disprove the said hypothesis before publishing their findings and then have them reviewed rather than the Forecast which will be based on crowdsourced voting to determine the truthfulness of an hypothesis.
The Forecast app turns the hypothesis into the end result, in a way. The app lets users make a forecast and explain their reasoning — in other words, form a hypothesis. But instead of doing the work to test the forecast, through the application of the scientific method, Forecast will track the votes a given question receives.
E.g. “When will the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate begin phase 3 trials?” or “When will most U.S. residents be treated with a COVID-19 vaccine?”
With such question asked, the team behind the Forecast program will then review and edit it for clarity if ever needed. Users will then be notified if their question ever get published.
Questions will be based on different scenarios such as “Settled” all based on an elapsed time period or based on the event occurrence. Charts and graphs of the Forecast can be shared outside the application to other places like Facebook. And with the complicated state of misinformation on social media platforms in general, it would be really hard to identify what is true or what is fake and this could further complicate the existing complexity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facebook users who see these shared “forecasts” may believe they have some basis in science and research, when instead, they are the result of a social networking app.
There would also be the community collective “best guesses” about important future events which can further help other have a more understanding of what people are thinking at a given time. Where my problem lie is with people being able to just outright spread predictions.
Facebook’s goal here is only to test its own hypothesis — that a standalone, community-based predictions app that rewards a participatory audience with social credit will surface insightful voices and thoughtful discussions.
Facebook has however said that the Forecast app will be moderated for clarity using the Forecast’s own moderation guidelines as well as Facebook’s Community standards. With that, questions emphasizing on death, sexual assault of any person or of a public figure will be screened out. Hate speech isn’t allowed. Questions around illegal content or those involving personal information also aren’t permitted, along with other guidelines detailed here.