Facebooks new Town Hall feature helps you find and contact your government reps

In Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbergs nearly 6,000-word manifesto published last month, he laid out a number ofglobal ambitions he had for the social network in the days ahead including one where its users becamemore civically-engaged and voted more often. Now, it seems Facebook has taken its first steps toward making that possible, through a new feature its calling Town Hall.

This latest addition has just popped up on the More menu in Facebooks mobile app, and offers a simple way for users to find and connect with their government representatives on a local, state and federal level.

To use Town Hall, you only have to enter in your address which Facebook says is not displayed or shared (though it doesnt say its not saved, so be advised).

This will information will help topopulate the followingscreen with a list of your representatives, all of whom you can follow with just a click of a button. Thelist includes not just those representing you in the U.S. House and Senate, but also your state legislature and your governor, local council members and yourmayor, as well as those in other federal positions, like VP Mike Pence and President Trump.

The list youll see will be based on your location, which means you might not have local reps appear for example, if you live in a smaller town where local officials dont maintain a Facebook presence.

In addition to being able to follow their Facebook Pages in order to receive their updates in your News Feed, each representative also has a Contact button next to their name.

When tapped, you have the option to Message them, Email them, or visit their Facebook Page. Of course, not all representatives are as available as others. In manycases, there may be no means of contact beyond visiting aFacebook Page.

On their Page, you may be able to dig around to find a phone number or mailing address, if it happens to be published. However, this is definitelynot as handy as some of the independent websites that provide this information to you with just a few clicks, including the newer resistance-focused serviceslike Call to Action or 5 Calls, for instance, or even othermobile apps, like Countable.

It would be great to see Facebook enhance its Town Hallresource with the full contact detailsfor all officials going forward, especially given that this is public information and fairly easy to find even on official government websites.

Beyond following your reps and getting in touch, the Town Hall feature applies a bit of peer pressure to get you involved by noting how many of your friends have connected with a government rep via Facebook. This isnt all that useful beyond the potentialpsychological impact it has on users, by making them not want to beleft out.

At the bottom of the page, you can also toggle voting reminders off or on, so youll be alerted when theres an upcoming election in your area.

Town Hall is hardly Facebooks first foray into politics. The social network has regularly prompted users to register and to vote through a number of means, including push notifications, banners in itsNews Feed, Messenger integrations, maps to polls, social sharing features(like I voted), and more including, in this past Presidential Election, an Election 2016 shortcut in users Favorites section on both web and mobile. It also published a voter guide, which included down-ballot propositions and local races.

Weve asked Facebook for more details as to the status of the Town Hall features rollout, and will update if the company responds.

The features arrival follows several other recent additions to Facebooks sidebar in recent months, includingits new City Guides,Wi-Fi Finder, Discover Peoplesection, andWeatherguide.

Image credit, top: Marcbela (Marc N. Belanger) (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; other images: Facebook; H/T: Jose Gutierrez

Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/14/facebooks-new-town-hall-feature-helps-you-find-and-contact-your-government-reps/

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