Facebook is rolling out a brand new feature with the intent of letting its users connect with their representatives. Called “Town Hall”, the feature can be found in the “More” menu in Facebook’s mobile app and could prove to be a really convenient way of connecting with government representatives and discovering what they are up to.
The choice of the name is certainly interesting. Town hall usually refers to a building which controls the local administration. By calling its feature as such, Facebook isn’t really leaving any room for doubt here as to the purpose.
To start using the feature, simply visit it in the settings and enter your address.
Once you are done, Facebook will show you a list filled with all your local representatives it could lay its hands on. For those in the US, this includes representatives of the public into the U.S. House and Senate and the state legislature, plus the governor. It will also show you the option to follow the members of the local council, the mayor and even the president and the vice-president. Although I am not sure what kind of boost Trump’s popularity will receive after this feature.
The whole point behind getting you to enter your address is for Facebook to receive your bearings so that it can populate your Town Hall with the most relevant representatives. Of course, the number of representatives you see is subjective since only those local officials that maintain a social media account with their designation entered and verified will pop up on the list.
Apart from getting the option to follow your representatives and receiving updates whenever they make an announcement through Facebook, you can also contact them by using a button with the same name available right next to their names. The contact button can give you the option to “Message” them, “Email” them, or visit their Facebook Page. However, Facebook has considered the fact that not all representatives would appreciate their Facebook or e-mail inboxes flooded with messages and as such, has left the decision of making different contact options available to the representatives themselves.
So, don’t be too surprised if all that comes up when you press contact us is an invitation to visit their profile page. However, it is surprising that Facebook didn’t add further contact details including at least, the office phone number for the representatives. After all, office contact details are available on the government websites as well and adding those details would have saved the end user some trouble.
With that said though, the feature is certainly very interesting and is an important step towards Facebook’s role in increasing accountability of public representatives. Also, with a large portion of their county or town or state populations watching, you can expect these representatives to be on their best behavior and be ready to respond. Facebook could also decide to augment the “Town Hall” in the future and turn it into something that allows the masses to directly communicate with the representatives of the government. We have contacted Facebook regarding the same and will let you in on the company’s plans once we receive a reply.
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