For Facebook, it means getting even more deeply enmeshed in your life. For you, it will mean a platform to reach and interact directly with your elected representative in the local, state or the central government. Last month, founder Mark Zuckerberg’s had spoken of how the company’s next focus was on “developing the social infrastructure for community … for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all”. On Monday, it unveiled (only in the US, at present) its new service, Town Hall, a non-partisan civic engagement tool. Town Hall allows the user to easily locate, follow and communicate with her representative at the county, municipal, state and federal level.
Available both on the desktop and the mobile platforms, it presents the user with a list of representatives and the links to their public Facebook page. If she likes or comments on a post made by her elected official, the feature will invite her to call, message or e-mail the representative. It will then prompt her to share an alert about the same to spur her Facebook friends in to similar civic engagement.
The feature is handicapped to an extent by the fact that not all elected officials are likely to have shared their contact information on Facebook and at present, doesn’t pull missing phone numbers of e-mails from offsite sources like government websites. But, as per a TechCrunch report, the company is working on it. In a country like India, where civic issues are many and easy access to elected officials rare, this could prove a hit.