First Products Out of Debug Politics Tackle Fake News and Civic Engagement

Debug Politics—a nonpartisan group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs that formed in the wake of the 2016 election—recently hosted their inaugural hackathon in San Francisco. For those outside the Valley, a political hackathon (or programming sprint) might smack of “tech elitism”, yet the founders are adamant they are not trying to “save” anyone through software. “We’re not expecting to fix the political system with a weekend-long hackathon,” says Jesse Pickard, CEO of Elevate and one of Debug Politics’ founding members. “Our goal is to transform frustration with the political system into action.”

The hackathon drew over 300 participants and produced 12 products, many of which are still in beta. Below is a small sample of what was created:

  1. Spectrum: Alerts users when they are on a site known to be unreliable — and to combat source bias, offers suggested articles from the other side of the political spectrum. The goal is to allow users to understand publication biases and see opposing viewpoints.
  2. HelloGov: Allows users to easily figure out who their representative is, call them and encourage their friends to do the same.
  3. NewsNavigator: A browser extension that provides fact-checkers and journalists with heat-seeking technology to find fake news, flag it for users and provide well-sourced responses directly in-line with their social media feeds and web browser.
  4. WTFdoIdonow: A website to source impactful opportunities to get involved at a local level in a way that is conducive to users’ time and interest.

Debug Politics is hosting its second event in San Francisco, December 9-11 with subsequent events scheduled for New York City, January 13-15, and Los Angeles, February 3-5.

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