Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

HST debate gets its own Facebook app

A new Facebook app has been designed to help the uninformed and undecided voters of British Columbia make sense of the upcoming HST vote. Created by Vancouver-based PartyX, The HST Facebook application presents potential voters with a series of dueling arguments over the referendum before asking each user to take a side on a number of statements. After completing the survey, the user's stance is assigned a position on a graph where it can be examined in relation to those positions of other users.

The HST app, like all Facebook applications, is social and interactive. In each section of the application, users are invited to leave comments and feedback.

PartyX founder John Richardson hopes that future applications like these will help foster a more informed and productive public dialogue on social and political issues.

The HST debate, Richardson told The Tyee, is "just a hard nut to crack."

“We wanted to test out the technology for engaging people on Facebook to make collective decisions, but more importantly, we wanted to help people understand the issue,” Richardson said.

Many potential voters have reported confusion over the information dispensed in ad campaign both for and against the issue. Indeed, many find the very wording of the ballot question itself perplexing.

In constructing the HST Facebook App, PartyX used arguments provided by the official Yes and No campaigns: Fight HST and the Smart Tax Alliance respectively. Though both campaigns employ politically charged rhetoric, leaving the application open to the criticism that the information provided is not objective, Richardson claims that by presenting the clearest version of both sides of the argument, the potential voter will be able to make the best decision. Moreover, he claims, it is the fairest approach.

"Ultimately, I didn't feel as though I should get involved choosing who has the better arguments," he says.

"Our society is facing some very important questions," says Richardson. "I don't know that the democratic structures that we invented two or three hundred years ago are up to the task. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way in which we run our democracy."

Ben Christopher is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus