Facebook has unveiled a new feature called Town Hall that lets users find and engage with local elected officials.
The feature is just the latest in a series of bids by Facebook to boost civic engagement. Founder Mark Zuckerberg outlined his concerns for the world and his hopes for the future in a lengthy open letter published in February. "We may not have the power to create the world we want immediately," he wrote, "but we can all start working on the long term today. In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us."
Town Hall, which users can access by clicking the More menu on the homepage, seems to be a direct response to Zuckerberg's call for increased engagement with the civic process: "Only through dramatically greater engagement can we ensure these political processes reflect our values," he wrote in his open letter. The feature uses location data to deliver a list of contact information for local representatives and, for some officials, the option to reach out directly through Facebook.
Experts say Facebook’s election-day reminders and virtual "I Voted" stickers have driven hundreds of thousands of voters to the polls. If Town Hall can have a similar effect on civic engagement, representatives will be able to better serve the will of their constituents.
[h/t Tech Crunch]