“Forecast” App Is One of Facebook’s Most Interesting Experiments in 2020

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated July 12, 2021

The Facebook NPE (New Product Experimentation) has launched the closed beta program for “Forecast,” one of the most exciting experiments we’ve seen this year. Simply put, this is a platform of “crowdsourced predictions” where people can suggest questions, and other users can provide their predictions. For example, the “Will we have a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of the year?” would be a valid question for the Forecast platform.

forecast screenshot

Source: Facebook

Admins will check the suggested questions and moderate them for clarity, and people will afterward provide predictions and opinions. Then, users will be able to check each other’s predictions, see who got things right, at what rate, and follow others’ activities. There will be categories of topics with respective leaderboards, so the top Forecasters will see themselves rising to recognition and glory.

All that said, the question of what this is all about could still linger in your mind. One answer is that the NPE is simply experimenting, pushing forward various things until something proves to be a good idea. Facebook, though, is not a platform that does things in random, and Forecast is a platform that we predict it’s going to move forward. The reason we believe this is that forecasts and predictions hold special value to human psychology, so user engagement could hit the skies.

forecast users

Source: Facebook

People love getting predictions and forecasts, as this gives them a sense of security, supposedly knowing what comes next and somewhat putting the chaos of our lives in order. Even if it is totally made up or entirely unsubstantiated, it creates a feeling of serenity. And then, there’s the value of this data, and Facebook’s potential to gather - as well as provide - insightful predictions on a series of matters that torment large groups of people but aren’t getting enough coverage or scientific analysis for various reasons. Forecast prediction results could hold more value than field experts’ opinions, which is just an evolutionary step of what’s already happening on social media.

But let’s not get too far with forecasting ourselves - Forecast will have to pass through its beta testing stage first, and if deemed valuable, it will open up to more users. Unfortunately, the program is invite-only for now, but you can join the waitlist if you want to become a Forecaster when and if the project enters its next phase.

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