Peer pressure your friends into voting with Outvote


Originally published at:



While I approve of this app, and their policy states that they don’t share information, for the Android version:

This app has access to:


  • read calendar events plus confidential information
  • add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners’ knowledge


  • read your contacts


  • approximate location (network-based)
  • precise location (GPS and network-based)


  • read your text messages (SMS or MMS)


  • read phone status and identity


  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage


  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage


  • take pictures and videos


  • record audio

Device ID & call information

  • read phone status and identity


  • manage document storage
  • receive data from Internet
  • view network connections
  • full network access
  • change your audio settings
  • draw over other apps
  • control vibration
  • prevent device from sleeping
  • modify system settings
  • install shortcuts
  • read Google service configuration

(Those permissions don’t mean that it immediately grabs all that stuff, just that for some particular function of the app it probably needs it.)


“Peer pressure your friends into voting with Outvote”

Oh boy if someone did this to me it’d more than likely irritate and piss me off. Don’t be that asshole. You know, actually talk to your friends if you want them to vote…


So, you have to have actual friends? I mean, hypothetically. Asking for a… um… a person I know.


Good way to get me to block you.


Director of product for Outvote here.

Ugh, yeah that’s < nerdery > Android and React Native not playing well together < /nerdery >. We only use contacts (and you can delete from settings whenever you want). The permissions were correct on Android until the most recent update. Contacts is still the only permissions request on iPhone. Should be cleaned up v. soon on Android.

We don’t sell or give away user data. The only data that goes back to the campaign is what you send manually on the data entry screen in the stats tab. The default campaign “Take Back Congress” is ours and we don’t share the data with anyone (though we will occasionally bug you to work harder as the election gets closer…).



Ah, permission snowballing.

There’s probably one stupid little library that’s set wrong and it yanks in a pile of unneeded stuff. Roger that!


It won’t let me use it at all without making an account and giving my phone number. Why should that be necessary? It isn’t; they’re just trying to hoover up my data and probably claim they have my permission to SMS me as well—I can’t tell because the privacy policy link goes to a blank page. And even if I got past that, I know it’s going to ask to harvest my contacts, and I’ll never ever let it. I simply don’t trust some random app that paid to be mentioned on BoingBoing. Maybe I’m the last person on Earth who hasn’t already let my contacts get uploaded to Facebook and Google and China and Cambridge Anal and InfoWars, but I’m not starting now. I like the idea of convenient access to public records on voting, but I’ll find it somewhere else.

Also, these sponsored posts that read like real posts are still very sketchy. People notice.


Technology Will Save Democracy! version 200.0


It only asked for permission to read my contacts just now.


There’s no standards-accreditation for people to get certified to handle your personal information, so you don’t have much choice but to read the privacy policy and decide for yourself. Ours is here: and it’s about a 4 minute read.

TBH, if we absolutely blew up this season and sold every bit of data we collected, it wouldn’t pay a month’s worth of our bills and it would be a permanent end to our ability to earn revenue if anyone found out, so not a great move, business-wise. What Cambridge Analytica sold was mainly smoke, the real bits already available elsewhere for much cheaper and everyone has pretty much figured that out. The real value of Facebook is in the work people put into creating content and making themselves available to one other, not the magical inferences about how to get people to buy stuff (including candidates), which are dramatically oversold.

If you want, you can find our whole team on our website. We’re all easily found on Linkedin. You can see where we went to school and what jobs we’ve held in the past.

Ultimately, it’s up to you who to trust.


Our theory is that when people who know each other have conversations about holding each other accountable for engaging in pro-social behavior, it has a positive effect regardless of the communications channel. It would work via hand-written letters. It’s just a question of how many messages you can get them to send :slight_smile:


Since you are a Director of the Product there, it would be really helpful if you would explain a bit about your business model. Are you running this as a non-profit, or are you trying to run this thing as a profitable (potentially) business? I trust you on your word, when you say that you are not going to sell raw data that you gather, but do you intend to sell a service based on this data?


Campaigns pay us to be listed on the app and for various niceties that make it feasible to use in campaign offices and with distributed volunteers as an enterprise tool (mainly tech support). We only accept Democratic and progressive candidates and orgs as clients. Campaign clients have their own download links and their users mostly only interact with that campaign. Our default campaign, Take Back the House is just for sake of trying to get out the vote. It also helps us beta test features, etc… but we don’t, and can’t imagine how we would, make money from it.


Thanks for answering my question, I really do appreciate you devoting your time to engage with people on this forum.

I guess that your sales pitch to potential customers is anchored to these activation numbers? Something along the lines out of X people that received a reminder about a particular campaign via our app Y actually went out and voted.

Is the report that you are giving to your customers, as sparse as this, or do you provide more granular insights. For example, do you slice this data based on age, gender or other demographic parameters, such as state, region, city, etc.?


Yeah, basically we’re trying to convince campaigns that 10 messages to people you know is worth about 2 hours canvassing (we think it’s worth ~2.2 from internal studies) in terms of driving the vote.

Customers get total users and messages sent with no breakdowns, but volunteers can enter granular info about the how the conversation went in the data entry screen (support level 1-5, will have yard sign, etc…), basically the same kind of data entry you do when canvassing.

We coordinate with the campaign to ensure they aren’t contacting the same phone numbers multiple times via different channels, but we don’t give them contact info on people they don’t already have. They also receive all “do not call”-flags generated by their campaign.


Again, I appreciate your answer. Do you intend to store the data you get indefinitely? I would assume you do. If I read correctly your privacy policy contains provision that data might be transferred to a new owner in case that company eventually gets sold off or otherwise acquired by someone else?


Sometimes I wish conservatives could be as innovative as progressives.