Facebook has made it easier for people to share a piece of their mind with their elected officials. It also has eliminated the excuse that people don’t know who represents them in Congress or state legislature.
Mashable has provided a step-by-step primer on how to access and use Facebook’s “Town Hall” feature, which you can use either on a computer or mobile device.
After you find the setting, you enter your address and Facebook brings up the names of the men and women who represent you, allows you to follow them or makes it easy to contact them. Facebook lets you call, send a message (on Facebook Messenger) or go to your representative’s Facebook page to post your comments.
The Town Hall feature may be in part Mark Zuckerberg’s atonement for aiding and abetting fake news through Facebook. Even though the feature may be slightly misnamed – it isn’t really a town hall, but an easy way to vent to your elected representatives, it is a convenient tool that could spur more participation in the policy and political processes of government.
The genius may be in its simplicity. Facebook has simply used databases to correlate where you live with congressional and legislative districts and, in some cases, local jurisdictions. Then it has rolled up the process of finding the appropriate address, phone number or social media site into a clickable button. Constituents can concentrate on what they want to say, and not struggle finding our where to say it.
Under President Obama and continuing in the Trump administration, online political chatter has increased exponentially. But much of it is negative and undirected. Facebook Town Hall affords an opportunity to direct a specific message to someone who actually could vote for or against a bill on your recommendation.
Facebook has made it easier to express your mind and be heard by someone with a vote and, in the process, contributed to increased civic participation. But Facebook is not immune from a polarized electorate and its Town Hall could reflect those same hostile divisions.