Facebook Rolls Out New Features To Connect Elected Officials With Constituents

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Aislinn Murphy Assistant Managing Editor
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Facebook released three new features to better connect U.S. elected officials with their constituents, reports TechCrunch.

These features — constituent badges, constituent insights and district targeting — are part of a larger effort by Facebook to become more involved in the country’s political dialogue.

The social networking site received harsh criticism during the 2016 presidential election cycle for the spreading of fake news and misinformation, although Facebook denies its culpability in Donald Trump’s successful presidential election bid.

Since then, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a 6,000-word manifesto in which he pledges Facebook’s intention to building a “global community.”

“Our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community,” writes Zuckerberg.

Part of that social infrastructure includes civic engagement, specifically encouraging direct channels of communication between government officials and their constituents.

By expanding upon the site’s existing Town Hall feature, which allows lawmakers to hold virtual town halls with their constituents via Facebook Live, the social networking site takes steps toward its new focus.

New opt-in constituent badges allow users to identify themselves as living in the district of an elected official based on the address they provide.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook will limit the number of times users can change their addresses and remove badges from previous posts when addresses change to minimize instances of people faking their constituency.

The second feature, Constituent Insights, helps lawmakers learn which news stories are trending in their districts and allows them to share their thoughts.

District targeting, provides representatives with feedback directly through Facebook, using posts or polls to which only constituents of that district can respond.

In combination, these new features could prove to be an invaluable tool for lawmakers in engaging directly with voters and identifying key issues in their districts.