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Facebook is testing an app that helps prisoners transition back into society


A hot potato: Facebook is testing an app designed to help convicts who are being released from prison adapt back into society. Called the Re-Entry app, the platform appears to be part of FB’s efforts to create more products aimed at marginalized communities.

As reported by Bloomberg, promotions for the social media app appeared at the top of some Instagram feeds yesterday, seemingly by mistake. The notification promised to help with “preparing for life after prison with community support.” Users were invited to click on the promo for early access to the Re-Entry app and offer feedback.

“We’ve been exploring different ways to help close gaps faced by those in marginalized communities across our apps,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. “This was only intended to be an internal test and we took down the notice as soon as we learned it briefly ran externally.”

Many states don’t’ allow inmates to access social media or post information to the platforms. There are some, including Alabama and Iowa, that limit the ability of third parties such as friends and relatives to post on the prisoners’ behalf.

Last June, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted Facebook to start “building products to advance racial justice.” FB-owned Instagram, meanwhile, created an Equity team last year with the aim of building “new features that respond to the needs of underserved communities.”

It’s likely that an app for ex-prisoners would bring some controversy, but Facebook does often experiment with new ideas that never make it into the final product stage or end up drastically different from the initial concept.

Masthead image: MemoryMan





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