Facebook has now expanded its Town Hall concept, which allows people to reach out to their elected officials, as it came up with a dedicated feature for politicians themselves.
With this feature, elected officials can further determine the pulse of their constituents, and better represent their voices in Congress.
— The Verge (@verge) June 10, 2017
In relation to this, Facebook has introduced three new features:
- Constituent Insights: This allows elected public officials to determine which among the issues is most relevant to their constituents. The content can come in the form of a news story, personal experience, or advocacy. The politicians can immediately share their opinions to further clarify a point or address a problem.
- Constituent Badge: This makes it easier to connect the elected public official with their constituents. Facebook even has filtering controls to weed out those pretending to be living in the same district as the government representative. It does this by limiting the address entered by users to one each. If the user changes the address, the badge will also be removed.
- District Targeting: This allows for instantaneous feedback, as politicians deal with their constituents directly through Facebook. The filtering tool already explained above ensures that they are only dealing with people within their districts.
— Charles Milander (@charlesmilander) June 7, 2017
In addition, politicians can also choose to engage with their constituents, rather than just waiting for them to raise their concerns. Informal polls using this feature may be an important tool in representation.
While this is part of Facebook’s intention to be a positive force in encouraging public discourse, this new feature connecting politicians with their constituents will still depend largely on social media users actually capitalizing on the town hall features of the platform.
Mark Zuckerberg has been accused of helping tilt public opinion toward President Donald Trump in the run-up to the November 2016 elections by not adequately curating false information against Hillary Clinton. The former state secretary under the Obama administration called out Facebook several times on the issue.
In his February manifesto, Zuckerberg said that Facebook is taking a more active role in developing communities, instead of just connecting families and friends.
“For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families,” Zuckerberg said. “With that foundation, our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community.”
He added, “Giving everyone a voice has historically been a very positive force for public discourse because it increases the diversity of ideas shared.”