Knight Foundation funded the Super PAC App as part of a series of grants to get people more engaged in the democratic process. Here, the app's co-founder Dan Siegel writes about why you should use it.
This week, with Knight Foundation's backing, we launched the Super PAC App for your iPhone. It's a free and fun way to find out more about the presidential election ads coming out of your TV. Download the app, load it up any time you're watching a presidential commercial (whether on TV, YouTube, or elsewhere) and explore who and what is behind the ad.
I want to mention three big reasons why we’re so excited about Super PAC App.
First, this one’s for you. Whoever, wherever, whatever you are (I suppose you do have to have opposable thumbs to use the app, so cats and dogs are out), there are lots of digital tools being used by the campaigns themselves, the consultancies that support them and the companies and individuals that fund them. Those with a big voice and big money have embraced digital to be heard and raise more money. Great. But we were really motivated to build something for the people being yelled at—not the ones doing the yelling. So we built Super PAC App, and made a lot of decisions to optimize with the goal that you will use this. The app is free, with no ads. We focused on keeping the look and feel simple and playful at times. And most importantly, this should be useful for both “sides.” Every presidential ad is available to explore, rate, and check. The sources we surface are from trusted, non-partisan news outlets. And the financial data is straight from the FEC.
Second, voters deserve this. We’re in the age of information overload, thanks to the Internet. You can find tons of information to confirm or deny any thought you’ve got, or any idea you wish to explore. This makes it easy to tune out completely. I know I’ve had the hopeless “where do I even start?” feeling, and decided to click links to Call Me Maybe auto tunes rather than explore whether health care reform is a good idea or not. But that’s pretty dangerous, when $11 billion will be spent to manipulate your opinion on who should lead the world’s most powerful nation. So we were inspired to create something that cuts through the noise, because voters shouldn’t have that hopeless ”forget it” feeling. You like your TV? Keep watching. You like your couch? Stay on it. You don’t understand what these political ads are all about? Use Super PAC App.
Finally, this feels like the beginning of the unknown. Mobile applications are new-ish in general. But mobile as applied to politics—now we’re in uncharted territory. There are cool ways we can imagine Super PAC App working in the future. Perhaps the claims and sources of an ad are crowd-sourced and fed into the app by users in real-time, with the community policing itself. Perhaps campaigns realize when an ad is rated “fail” by 90% of users, the message should change. Or perhaps—who knows? That’s what excites us. This feels like the first at bat in the first inning of the game where we empower voters with useful information. We’re excited to see how the game plays out.
Dan Siegel is the co-founder of the Super PAC App.