Facebook Forecast Crowd-Sourced Prediction Engine Is A Crystal Ball For Sports And Political Opinions
Ask a question on Facebook and be prepared to get annoyed at some of the answers. Or may that is just me (doubt it). Hey, it is the nature of social media—everyone has an opinion, and most are willing to share it. Sort of along those lines, Facebook is expanding access to its experimental crowd-source predictive technology called Forecast.
What exactly does that mean?
"Forecast is a social prediction market that lets people make public predictions on a range of questions and then give their reasoning, support someone else’s reasoning, or join in the conversation about a topic. Users can follow other forecasters and visit their profiles to see public predictions and opinions. Users can also track their own prediction skill over time and climb the leaderboard on individual topics," Facebook explains.
The timing of Forecast's expanded availability comes as we head into the next US presidential election, with the two many candidates being President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Naturally, some people will inevitably want to ask and get predictions for which candidate will ultimately win. Likewise, there are a bunch of side questions that are trending, like what percentage of the national popular vote will Donald Trump receive in the 2020 US presidential election.
It is not just about asking questions, either. Being that this is a crowd-sourced model, you can make forecasts to the questions being asked. You can head to the Forecast website and browser a list of trending questions, and provide your own prediction, if you like.
One thing to keep in mind is this is not truly a crystal ball, in that the outcomes and answers to questions may not align with how things actually turn out.
"In the process of reasoning about their predictions, people share insights about what’s going on today and debate what it means for tomorrow. Like any set of predictions, Forecast cannot offer definitive answers about the future. However, as we’ve learned in our initial testing, when people take time to explain how they arrived at their forecasts, it appears to encourage measured, respectful conversation," Facebook explains.
This is not restricted to politics, either. Forecasts can relate to sports or anything else. It is also based on a point system, which you earn by being correct in your predictions, and can spend to make more forecasts. You are also awarded points on a daily basis, so you can have at least some form of participation.
For now, the app is only available for iOS (it's not clear when it will be released for Android). Participation is also limited to the US and Canada for the time being.