Tweets claiming that Joe Biden's "VoteJoe" campaign app tells you which of your contacts haven't voted and other election information had the VERIFY team wanting to find out: Is this true?
Does Joe Biden's campaign app let users see voting information about the people on their phone's contact list?
Yes, if a user chooses to grant the app access to their phone's contacts, the app will take the names and numbers and compare them to a database of public voting records.
The contacts can be sorted by Democrat, Republican, those who vote frequently and those who vote rarely.
You can also click on a contact's name to see which elections they've voted in, though you cannot see how they filled out their ballot or who they voted for.
WHAT WE FOUND
The VERIFY team installed the "VoteJoe" App to test this all out. The app took us to a page where it requests access to the phone's contacts.
If you click yes, it gives you a list of all your contacts with a little image next to them. A small donkey means they're a Democrat, a small elephant means Republican, etc. There are also symbols to show if a voter has voted often or rarely, and if the contact lives in a battleground state.
So yes, this is a real function of the app. But how does it do this? And is it accurate?
When you give the app access to your contacts, it takes the numbers and names in your phone and compares them to a database of public voter information kept by the Biden team.
It's not always accurate. The app has a disclaimer that it may be inaccurate or outdated since it's using public records. In our test, a few contacts actually showed up as their relatives because they share phone accounts.
So, yes, the app does let you see voter information about your contacts using public records from past elections. That's verified.
The only real way to opt-out of this is saying "no" when it asks permission to view your contacts.
Disclaimer: There's no real way to stop someone else from looking up your basic voting information because it is public record