Checking your Facebook during an election year can be like getting thrust into a war zone where some of your closest friends and family are—inexplicably—fighting for the other side. And we all know how well personal politics plays out on social media: No one ever gets hot-headed, confuses opinions with facts, or accuses someone on the other side of being stupid and not truly understanding the situation, right? By the time the November elections roll around, it’s almost certain that your friend list will be a few people lighter.
But one new app called Verona is hoping to disrupt the tension by connecting people from opposing sides and helping them form friendships with each other. The app, for Android and iOS, gets its name from the city of Verona where Romeo and Julie—the Montagues versus the Capulets—played out.
Verona takes its design inspiration from Tinder. First you tell it which party or side you identify with, then you are shown cards of people on the opposite side of the aisle. If each of you swipe right on one another, you’ll be able to start sending messages, which the app’s creators hope will allow you to start a dialogue with each other and humanize the other side, creating friendships in the process. Besides sending text messages to those on the opposite side, Verona also allows you to send images and have video chats, too.
Verona was originally created to pair Palestinians with Israelis, but the app has now expanded its reach to pair Democrats with Republicans and Trump supporters with Latino Americans. "We're trying to increase global empathy," Verona creator Matthew Nolan told Vice. "A third of humanity is on the Internet right now. It's crazy to me that there's not massive singing and dancing in the streets."
Verona hopes to change that. The app is a free download.