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Evanston High School student Luca Zerega has been watching the polarization of politics unfold throughout much of his life. He has been trying to dream up a way to change the narrative.
In an effort to help heal political division, Zerega, an ETHS junior, and his friend Elijah Platnick, created “Debatable.” They thought it would be fun to make a website that would draw people across the country to do one of the things Americans love the most – debate.
“We thought it could be useful to help people solve some of the problems our country is facing,” Zerega said.
Differing from Reddit and Twitter, Debatable will be an online chat forum, like the video forum of Omegle. A user will create an account and then can begin a chat based on a certain political issue – abortion access, healthcare, immigration and more.
At the end of every discussion a user will rate the person they chatted with from one to 10, based on reliability. The lower your reliability rating, the less people on Debatable will take you seriously – therefore attempting to diminish the spread of misinformation on the site.
There are also two chat modes – “respectful” and “random.” If a user has a lower rating, they will only be able to engage in the respectful mode, where conversations will be less intense and with more moderate users, prohibiting the lower rated user from pursuing conflict. Users can also report one another, and any use of slurs are automatically banned on the site.
“Debatable is for people on the other side to realize everyone is human and to get a perspective of an actual person that they might not agree with, but they could better understand where they are coming from,” Zerega said. “I think it could help heal a lot of political division and extremists.”
Platnick and Zerega, who has taken many computer science courses and coding, are working on finishing touches for the site, including security features, so it can launch in the upcoming weeks.
Debatable will also have social media accounts and a feature during election season for local chats based on one’s location so residents can chat about local issues that plague their communities.