11 days ago, the striking scenes of radical protestors breaking into the US Capitol shocked us, and many others around the globe. This extremist act of violence demonstrates how truly divided and uncompassionate we humans, as a society, have become.

ACTA has been designed to bridge this divide.

Traditional news and social media applications profit through ad revenue and 'clicks' this means that their suggestion algorithms are wired to be based on the consumer's previous choices, inadvertently causing polarisation on any and every topic as people are fed a stream of information agreeing to their views, no matter how misinformed or illogical these views are. Our social and educational platform bridges this divide by suggesting sources with varied perceptions, in order to broaden perspectives and encourage discussion between those who may hold polarised opinions.

What is Acta?

Acta is a social forum and news application, created so that people with different opinions are able to talk to one another and educate themselves about a range of different topics . Our newsfeed suggests a variety of highly trustworthy sources which all hold different biased perspectives, compiled to encourage people to think about viewpoints other than their own. Our forum allows discussion about any and all topics within the realm of reason, it is designed so that people from a range of backgrounds interact and talk about their views without being judged or shamed for their opinions but rather civilly debated.

Why is this important?

Compassion for others is integral to preventing violence, and understanding of logical and scientific ideas limits and reduces the spread of misinformation. If we can encourage both compassion and an understanding of logic and reason, then we can reduce the threats that both extremism and misinformation pose on a local, national and international level. Consider this, if the people who genuinely believed their election was stolen from them, and that democracy had failed them were allowed to freely debate their reasoning, a majority of these individuals could have been swayed to not commit the egregious act that occurred, with a forum such as Acta, we could have potentially quelled this threat before it even began.

The webapp

We used Javascript, Html and CSS to construct our webapp, an example of the code, which was the backbone of our routing system is below:

mport React from 'react';
import { BrowserRouter as Router, Switch, Route } from "react-router-dom";



import News from '../components/newspage.js'
import Discussions from '../components/discussionspage.js'
import Landing from '../components/landing.js'
import Comments from '../page/ViewForum';



const Routes =()=>{
    return (
    <Router>
        <div>
            <Switch>
                <Route  exact path='/' component={Landing} />
                <Route   path='/news' component={News} />
                <Route   path="/discuss" component={Discussions}/>
                <Route   path="/comments" component={Comments}/> 
            </Switch>
        </div>


    </Router>

    );
};

export default Routes;

Our Newsfeed

Our news feed utilises the Python and JS News API libraries to pull news about a variety of topics from a variety of sources and condense them into a dataframe:

class newsApiFrame():
    def __init__(self):
        self.top_headlines = newsapi.get_top_headlines(q='politics',
                                          category='business',
                                          language='en',
                                          country='us')
        mainframe = pd.DataFrame(columns=["source", "author",   "title",    "description",  "url",  "urlToImage", "publishedAt",    "content"])

we condensed our articles into summaries on each page through extractive summarisation using the well known textrank algorithm which retrieves the "top ranked" or most important lines of each article to create a hollistic summary of the article.

The forum

Discussion is integral to who we are as people, thats why our web app used firebase to ensure we host our discussions in a safe and secure location on the firestore so that we can easily access and maintain communication:

function loadMessages() {
  var query = firebase.firestore().collection('messages').orderBy('timestamp', 'desc').limit(12);

  // Start listening to the query.
  query.onSnapshot(function(snapshot) {
    snapshot.docChanges().forEach(function(change) {
        var message = change.doc.data();
        displayMessage(message.timestamp, message.name,
                      message.text, message.profilePicUrl);

    });

The Mobile App

We began to develop a mobile app using KivyMD in sync with python, this app though unfinished, meant that we began construction a multiplatform system for both web and mobile devices.

User experience within the mobile app

We maximised UX through our newsfeed, constructed for aesthetic yet immediate scrolling, unfortunately the UI was not polished due to the KivyMD's limited capabilities:

 MDSwiper:
                size_hint_y: None
                height: root.height - toolbar.height - dp(100)
                y: root.height - self.height - toolbar.height - dp(90)
                width_mult:1

Our future with Acta

We understand that the world has been divided, politically, socially and economically, but we are all still humans and we all need to co-exist and solve the problems that are to come. We plan on finishing Acta and making it a platform where individuals can express a diverse range of opinions and grow in character through civil discussion and compassionate discourse, our aim is to help bridge the gap divisive propoganda and misinformation has left.

Our final message

We hoped that this weekend we would not only create something successful, but something truly useful for today's society, our team is made up of two high schoolers and two university students looking to make a change, we fear the violence that has become rampant due to the extremist propoganda that spreads from all corners of the world, and hope that our project can give a platform to those who are being marginalised, oppressed, and do not have a say, so that we together can convince the world that it needs to change and become more compassionate and safe.

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