Iran

Iranian elections: Tinder-like app could sway presidential vote

Perry Chiaramonte

Iranians will be able to learn more about their presidential candidates with a simple swipe of their phone.

A California-based NGO has helped to create a Tinder-like app for the Iranian smartphone market to provide unfettered information about the candidates ahead of Friday’s national elections. Creators and supporters of the app say it will help Iranian voters make informed choices away from the regime’s propaganda machine that controls the flow of information in Iran.

United for Iran created an Android app, called Sandoogh96 (Vote2017 in English), as part of its “IranCubator” app development project. The group seeks to connect civil activists with app developers to build applications for the 40 million smartphone users in Iran.

“We’ve seen technological advances transform the global human rights movement and mobile-phone apps have the capacity to enable Iranian citizens to more easily and securely organize, assemble, and express themselves,” Firuzeh Mahmoudi, executive director of United for Iran said in a statement provided to Fox News. “This is why Sandoogh96 has the potential to be such a vital tool for Iranian voters.”

The Iranian Regime is notorious for its strict censorship and its extensive use of propaganda to shape perceptions and direct behavior—especially when it comes to voting.  

But the apps sends out unfiltered information to the masses, becoming a sort of loophole in the regime’s strict censorship.

“During Iran’s last presidential election, apps like Telegram were important tools of communication and voter activation,” Mahmoudi said. “Our hope is that Sandoogh96 will take that a step further, and give the average Iranian voter all of the tools they need to find the candidates that most reflect their beliefs and have a proven record of living up to their promises.”

The app went live last month and received nearly 1,200 downloads the first week. Users can use a dating app-like interface where the positions of the candidates appear and they can swipe right if they agree or swipe left if they do not.

“Today, there are more than 40 million smartphones in Iran and a million more are added every month. But the number of human rights apps remains close to zero,” Mahmoudi said. “We’ve seen technological advances transform the global human rights movement and mobile-phone apps have the capacity to enable Iranian citizens to more easily and securely organize, assemble, and express themselves. This is why Sandoogh96 has the potential to be such a vital tool for Iranian voters.”

The user’s swiping choices, the developers of the app say, enable them to pinpoint the candidate they most agree with.

“It is very hard to get true information in Iran,” Maziar Bahari Director of IranWire, a London-based news site that released the app with United for Iran, said to Fox News. “But Iranians are very entrepreneurial when it comes to getting information.”

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych