Facebook wants to be more than just a forum for online discussion. Now the social network is designing a new service aimed at encouraging civic engagement. The function, called Town Hall, notifies users about elected officials — even local ones — and sends reminders to vote and make phone calls.
Town Hall comes shortly after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would actively use its influence to encourage users to worry about the nation’s biggest problems.
“Our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community — for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all,” Zuckerberg said in a recent blog post.
In the past, Facebook’s involvement with politics has stirred controversy. This most recently occurred this past summer when the social network admitted to curating its Trending News stories that kept right wing stories out of News Feeds. Similar controversy arose on the left after the 2016 presidential election when some users started accusing Facebook of spreading “fake news.”
So far, Facebook’s newest political tool is only in its fledgling stages. Town Hall doesn’t have information of the 519,000 elected officials in the United States, which isn’t surprising since no other site does either. Regardless, the tool prompts you to connects with officials in Washington D.C. by more traditional means, like phone calls.
Town Hall is only available in the United States. On your web browser it is accessible through the right side of News Feed. On mobile, it can be found with other Facebook tools under a button with three vertical bars.