Two southern Brooklyn women have launched an online platform to promote voter engagement and civil conversation about politics — saying the polarization and over-crowded media landscape have made it impossible to have honest discussions about the important issues.
“You want to hear from people,” said Lisa Chin-Mollica, a product designer raised in Marine Park.
Mollica teamed up with Marine Park teacher Julia Fusco-Luberoff to create Vote in Or Out, which allows users to post news articles with accompanying commentary — allowing people to hear from people like them about how the news of the day affects them on a personal level.
“Right now, you get the headlines and that is a good source…but you never hear from regular people,” Mollica said. “When something happens with the Supreme Court…you might just scroll past it because you don’t understand it. But when your friend is like ‘no, this takes away Women’s Rights’ you are like ‘wait, hold on a second.’”
The message board provides other users with the option to “vote up” or “vote down” posts, as well as the chance to fact check claims, both of which will affect how prominently they will be seen by others.
“It’s just like Reddit, the stupid comments get zero upvotes,” Mollica said. “And the good ones start gravitating towards the top and that’s what everyone reads.”
In an effort to promote fact-based conversations, all posts must link to a “reputable” news source to be allowed on the site — which Mollica said will help reduce the toxicity often circulated on other platforms like Facebook.
“You write a very short sentence and then drop a link in,” Mollica said. “This is the way I limited people to being able to talk.”
The platform also provides a way for users to publicly show others which candidates for upcoming elections they support by marking them with a “vote in” or “vote out” label — which helps create the feel of a social network within the site.
“All of my friends can just go to my page,” Mollica said, “they can see my candidates and be like Lisa vetted this person.”
Mollica said that she expects that so-called “power users” who engage regularly, along with advocacy groups, will help drive the platform in the early stages because they will be the best sources to start a conversation around an issue — but as more users come online, there will be a wider variety of opinions, content, and ways to engage.
“They are the ones that feel good about creating a nice synopsis that is easy to understand, connect it to a reputable source,” Mollica said. “And then because of that veracity — getting upvoted and being passed around.”
Interested users can check out the platform at www.voteinorout.com/candidates