Facebook Takes Townhalls To Its Users
No matter what side of the political fence you are on it is no secret that this political environment is, well, let’s just say “active.”
Americans are weighing in on the political agenda more than ever and Facebook has just made it for American users to contact their representatives.
Earlier this week Facebook added a Townhall feature, which could lead to a lot more calls and messages to lawmakers from concerned citizens who want to be heard.
“Building a civically-engaged community means building new tools to help people engage in a thoughtful and informed way,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post Monday. “The starting point is knowing who represents you and how you can make your voice heard on the decisions that affect your life.”
Facebook’s new Townhall allows users to find their local, state and federal representatives. Users can access this from their desktop by visiting facebook.com/townhall or under the “Explore” section on the News Feed.
Users can also access the feature on the Facebook mobile app. The Townhall tool can be found under the menu in the bottom right corner of the app. Press the hamburger (the 4 lines) and the menu opens and scrolling down the Townhall tool can be found here.
Once open it has you enter in your home address and will pull up your local, state and federal elected officials.
It gives you the option to “follow” their Facebook Pages and the option contact them directly.
Users can contact them by phone, Facebook Messenger, Email or visit their Facebook Page, all with a single click.
According to Facebook the ability to contact the representatives will soon be integrated into the News Feed. So, when users like or comment on a post that has been published by one of the elected officials that users follow there will be an option to contact the representative directly. It will also give users the option to share with other followers of that representative that you have contacted the official.
How Will This Effect Politics?
Research has shown that voter participation increases when people tell their friends and family about their intention to vote. Additionally, sharing information on Facebook can influence voting behaviors. Sharing that type of information on Facebook can also shape other Facebook users’ real-world voting behavior, according to research conducted during the 2010 election and published in the journal Nature.
In addition to the Townhall feature Facebook will also be releasing “reminders” to vote for local elections. Federal elections already had a reminder feature on the site, but now elections for mayor or city council members will be a part of this feature too.
Facebook has stated that it will not use the information shared in this feature for advertising purposes. The purpose is to connect users with their elected officials and get them involved in the process.