AMSTERDAM, October 25, 2023 - From today, 'Bubbel' is available: the app that enables voters to break out of their own political bubble. On Bubbel, users can have anonymous 1-on-1 chats with voters who have different political preferences ahead of the House of Representatives elections. The app complements the Waaromkiesjij.nl website, which already facilitated hundreds of thousands of political "speed dates" during the 2017 and 2021 national elections.
In conversation with dissenters
In the run-up to the elections, how do you easily get into conversation with someone who really thinks differently? That's not easy, Leon Horbach and Ruben Treurniet found out in 2017. Because the own 'bubble', in which you surround yourself with like-minded people, turns out to be more persistent in practice than you would sometimes like. And that's a problem, because such bubbles contribute to the growing polarization in the Netherlands and the coarsening of the public debate. The vast majority of Dutch people are concerned about this, according to research by the Sociaal Cultureel Planbureau, among others. Treurniet: "We came up with an application that links you to a voter with an opposite party preference within a few clicks."
That idea grew into Waaromkiesjij.nl, a website where you could engage in conversation outside your bubble in anonymous chats based on current political statements. It turned out to be an accessible way to get in touch with a different perspective and to better understand each other's position.
Breaking bubbles en masse
The need proved to be great among the Dutch: in the month before the 2021 elections, Waaromkiesjij.nl attracted more than 300,000 visitors from across the political spectrum. The concept could count on enthusiastic reactions from users, such as "I had a very pleasant and respectful conversation with someone I disagree with on many points" and "It forced me to think about my own views as well." By launching a mobile app with Bubbel o´o´k in addition to the original website - which is active again during this election - Treurniet and Horbach hope to get even more people to break out of their bubble and encourage constructive public debate in the near future. The app came about with the support of the Ministry of the Interior, and, as in the previous edition, it is partnered with StemWijzer.
Bubble: the political speed dating app
The Bubble app is available for download on the App Store and via Google Play starting today. To use the app, once downloaded it is only necessary to indicate a political preference. Based on that, users are paired with partners with a different party choice. In anonymous 1-on-1 chat conversations, they can then engage in discussions outside their bubble to their heart's content, based on statements about political current events. Users can also invite friends who could use a look outside their own bubble. Treurniet: "Just like popular dating apps, Bubbel allows you to engage in longer conversations with multiple people, making it truly complementary to the original website. Moreover, the app will remain available after the House of Representatives elections, so those who want to can break out of their own bubble at any time."
Research: method proven effective
In order to test the impact of Waaromkiesjij.nl, scientists conducted several studies into its operation. This showed convincingly that the method works. Even short, anonymous chats about sensitive issues between political opponents contribute to more mutual sympathy, understanding for each other's points of view, and the willingness to engage in discussion more often. Thereby, this form of public debate can be an effective and scalable method to counter polarization. Treurniet: "When people engage in a conversation via chat, they turn out to agree with each other more often than they thought they would, or at least to disagree respectfully. With that, the valuable experiences of the users add up to real social impact."
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About Civinc Foundation
Four friends who wanted to break out of their bubble first launched Waaromkiesjij.nl in 2017 from the Civinc Foundation. After foreign spin-offs in Germany, Hungary and other countries, Waaromkiesjij.nl returned in the run-up to the March 2021 elections. In just over a month, the platform attracted more than 300,000 visitors. With a relaunch and the brand new app, Civinc aims to break many more bubbles before the November 22, 2023 elections. In addition to Ruben Treurniet and Leon Horbach, Minke Gommer and Nienke de Bruijn are actively involved in the launch. The Bubble app was developed with funding from the Ministry of the Interior. There is also a collaboration with StemWijzer. Civinc focuses on connecting perspectives in education and within organizations in addition to elections. Want to know more? Visit www.waaromkiesjij.nl or www.civinc.co.