Six Ways to Follow the Election on Chat Apps

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Follow the 2016 Election on Chat Apps

2016 Race to the White House
The 2016 race to the White House is in full swing, and now you can keep up with all of the news by using chat apps. Diego Cambiaso / EyeEm / Getty Images

There's a wide variety of new ways to get your political updates this election season.

There's nothing common about this election — including the new and unique ways that we can keep up with all of news and updates. Messaging apps are increasingly going to be used as a delivery platform for content, and we're seeing this in action during this election season.

From video and text updates delivered by chatbot on Facebook and Viber, to getting a peek into public chats by political experts, and even following the candidates themselves on Snapchat, the number of diverse ways that we can access information about the 2016 presidential election is unprecedented. Let's take a look!

Next: How to Get Updates from NowThisElection on Facebook Messenger

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NowThisElection on Facebook Messenger

NowThisElection offers polls as well as video and text updates via its chatbot. NowThisNews

NowThisElection on Facebook Messenger

NowThisElection is part of NowThisNews, an online news provider that creates content exclusively for the likes of Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube. Some of their other media titles include NowThisEntertainment and NowThisNews — each brand focusing on a particular interest category. NowThisElection covers the 2016 presidential election exclusively, and primarily publishes content on Facebook. 

NowThisElection has launched one of the many of thousands of chatbots that are in the works on Facebook Messenger, providing a fun and easy way to participate in the conversation and stay up to date on news. 

How to follow NowThisElection on Facebook Messenger:

  • Download Facebook Messenger, or if you already have it, make sure you have the latest version. Since chatbots are relatively new on Facebook you'll want to make sure your app is up-to-date in order to use the latest features. You can download it here for your Apple/iOS device or here for your Android device
  • Open Facebook Messenger.
  • From the home screen, tap into the search area and type NowThisElection. When it shows up as a search result, tap on it. You're now following the NowThisElection chatbot. 
  • Type a greeting such as "hi" or "hello" to activate it. Then, just follow the prompts to participate in polls, read updates or watch videos.
  • To Know: NowThisElection will send you updates as they become available. You can tap "Manage" in the top right corner when the chatbot is open to change your settings.

Next: Political News Provider 'Purple' Moves from Text Message to Facebook Messenger

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Purple on Facebook Messenger

Purple provides unique political coverage
Purple provides political coverage via SMS, but is now moving to Facebook. Purple

Purple on Facebook Messenger

Purple is a political news media brand co-founded by self-described "politics nerd" Rebecca Harris, a young, recent grad of the CUNY School of Journalism. Originally launched as a newsletter, the company shifted in March 2016 to focus exclusively on delivering political news via text messages. That's quite an unusual move — you don't see many newspaper, tv or magazine publishers choosing text messages as their sole method of providing updates to their customers. But Purple was able to pull it off, attracting thousands of subscribers by offering the ability to follow along for live updates on the campaign trail, or to just receive summaries and analysis of the day's events at one time.

But today, as of this very writing, Purple has announced that it is shutting down its text message service, and is moving to Facebook Messenger exclusively. Co-founder David Heimann explains, “The benefit that we get from [Facebook] Messenger is the fact that it’s already in most people’s phones. Additionally, the Messenger interface provides a lot of little things that makes the experience a lot better to use Purple on Messenger. 

The move to Facebook Messenger will result in new features being rolled out by Purple, including video, content designed for sharing, and expanding beyond politics to "the easiest place in the world to stay informed" about any topic. 

How to follow Purple on Facebook Messenger:

Purple, launching on Facebook Messenger on Monday August 1, 2016, is accessible only via invitation for now. Sign up for exclusive beta access here.

Next: Get Updates from HuffPo Elections on Viber

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HuffPost Elections on Viber

HuffPost on Viber
The Huffington Post is publishing fun and entertaining election content on Viber. Huffington Post / Viber

HuffPost Elections on Viber

HuffPost Elections — the arm of the media giant that focuses on election coverage, is delivering some fun and entertainment content on the messaging app, Viber.

"Public chats" on Viber are essentially the same thing as a chat room, "a place where one or more people can send messages to each other that anyone can see," according to Viber's website.  By following HuffPost Elections on Viber you can watch eighteen Huffington Post editors deliver updates ranging from a flurry of text messages breaking down an important development, to funny memes and videos.

How to follow HuffPost Elections on Viber:

  • Download Viber, or if you already have it, make sure you have the latest version. You can download it here for your Apple/iOS device or here for your Android device. (Note: Viber also offers apps for your desktop or Windows device.)
  • Open Viber
  • From the home screen, tap the "Public" icon in the bottom menu
  • Tap the magnifying glass icon on the next screen to bring up the search bar
  • Type "HuffPost" and view the options that appear
  • Tap "HuffPost Elections" 
  • To Know: While you can't participate directly in the chat, you can "heart" posts in the feed to indicate that you like them

Next: Tap Into Public Chats by Politicians, Advisors, Analysts and More on Sidewire

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Sidewire: Where Experts Chat in Public

Sidewire: Where Experts Chat
Sidewire is an app that gives you access to chats by experts in politics, sports and business. Sidewire

Public Chats by Political Experts on Sidewire

According to the company's website, Sidewire is "where experts chat in public." Available for Apple, Android and Amazon devices, the app offers a unique way to access expert opinions across a range of political topics. Once logged into the service, you're presented with a list of chat threads from political analysts, journalists, campaign staff members, politicians and others. Sidewire is a fun and easy way to access a variety of different perspectives on political issues. Plans for expansion into business and sports news are in the works. 

How to access public chats on Sidewire:

  • Download Sidewire, or if you already have it, make sure you have the latest version. Updates are frequently being released so its worthwhile to make sure you have the latest version so that you can take advantage of all of the new features. You can download it here for your Apple/iOS device or here for your Android device. (Note: Viber also offers apps for Amazon devices.)
  • Open Sidewire
  • On the home screen, you'll find some brief information about how the service works and what the public chats look like.
  • Tap on "Ok, Got It"
  • On the next screen, browse the conversations and tap into any that you want to read
  • That's it! It's easy! 
  • To Know: As of now, there's no requirement to set up a username or an account. And, you can't chat with the experts directly, but you can "heart" individual posts to indicate that you like them

Next: Check out the New York Times Election Bot on Slack

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NYT Election Bot on Slack

New York Times Election Bot
Follow election news from The New York Times on Slack. NYT / Slack

The New York Times Election Bot on Slack

Slack is known as the messaging app that has revolutionalized communications in the workplace. Describing itself as "Team communication for the 21st century," the messaging application is used by 77% of Fortune 100 firms, supports over 60,000 teams and logs 100 million hours of active usage every month. Not surprisingly, it has also become fertile ground for companies looking to reach a young, affluent audience — and media companies are no exception. In fact, The New York Times has taken to Slack to both provide election coverage as well as to generate questions from its followers, which can then be used in editorial programming and to gain insight into audience interests. 

How to access NYT Elections on Slack:

  • If you are new to Slack, you'll need to create an account. Go to the Slack website, or download one of their apps, which are available for MacWindows, and Linux desktops as well as iOS, Android and Windows phones. 
  • Enter your email
  • Follow the prompts for a login code to be sent to you via SMS and enter it into the fields provided. 
  • Enter your name and screen name
  • Create and enter a password
  • Enter a team name and domain. Since Slack is meant for teams, the signup process is geared towards setting up communications for groups. Maybe you want to start a team called "2016 Election" that you and your friends can follow for election news and discussion, for instance. Don't get nervous about the request for a "domain" - this simply means a title that can be used to access your team. For instance, if you wanted to set up the 2016 Election group, your domain could be "2016Election." (Note: Don't use any spaces in your domain.)
  • You'll then have the opportunity to invite friends, or skip the process. You can invite friends later so don't worry if you're not ready to invite other people.
  • Now that you're signed up, or if you were already a Slack user, visit the NYT Elections Bot page and click or tap the "Add to Slack" button. You will be directed to Slack where you will be asked to confirm which team you'd like to add the bot to, and will have the opportunity to select where the bot posts to.
  • To Know: Select the #general channel if you'd like the content from the bot to be available to everyone on your team.

Next: Follow the candidates themselves

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Follow Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Twitter, Snapchat

Dems vs. Republicans
Follow the presidential candidates on Snapchat and Twitter. Mark Makela / Getty Images

Follow Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Twitter, Snapchat

With the prevalence of social media in the 2016 election campaign, its likely that you already follow either or both presidential candidates on Twitter or Snapchat. Twitter in particular has played a significant role in outbound communication from the candidates — and has also facilitated discussion between them. Snapchat, with its funny and entertaining filters and geofilters has also become a popular platform for political updates, especially from the Clinton camp.

How to Follow Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Twitter and Snapchat:


  • Open the Twitter app on your mobile device, or visit the Twitter website. You can download the Twitter app on your iOS device here, and on your Android device here. 
  • Follow the prompts to sign-in, or register for a new account if needed.
  • Enter the screen name for the candidate you would like to follow into the search bar at the top. 
  • Hillary Clinton's Twitter screen name is @HillaryClinton and Donald Trump's is @realDonaldTrump
  • The relevant account will show up as a search result. Click or tap the "Follow" button to follow the candidate.
  • To Know: Conversations on Twitter can get pretty heated, so be prepared for anything!


  • Open the Snapchat app. If you are new to Snapchat, you can download the app for your iOS device here or your Android device here
  • Follow the prompts to set up or sign in to your account.
  • Tap on the menu item at the bottom right which consists of three horizontal lines
  • Pull the resulting page down to expose the search bar at the top
  • Type in the username for the candidate that you'd like to follow. Hillary Clinton's screen name is HillaryClinton, and Trump's is realdonaldtrump. 
  • Tap the "+" button next to the screen name when it comes up in the search results
  • To Know: Clinton loves Snapchat and her and her campaign publish to it daily. Trump is not as active on Snapchat.
  • That's it! You can now ride the ups and downs of the election in all kinds of new ways. Have fun!

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