Gather around people! In no distant time, you would be able to notify local officials of actions that you would like to see happen and make political demands on Facebook with a new feature called Community Actions.
The feature which is not yet available to everyone could unite neighbours to request a change from their local and national elected officials and government agencies. People who support any given petition will be able to discuss the topic with fellow supporters on the page, and will also be able to create events and fundraisers. Facebook will also display the number of supporters behind a community Action but you will only be able to see the names of those you are friends with or that are pages or public figures.
This is not the company’s first attempt at a civic-minded feature, as it has tried its hands on the Town Hall and Candidate Info for assessing politicians, Community Help for finding assistance after a disaster and local news digest Today In. While this looks like an effort that will compete with change.org petitions, the Community Actions feature is not likely to replace it because as it will be focused on spurring government action than just any random cause.
However, there would definitely be questions around how Facebook safeguards its new tools with proper policy and moderation, otherwise, it could become another liability. Seeing that a lot of people and movements have exploited the Growing number of people on the social networking community in misinformation, polarization and other negative abuses; it will be interesting to see how Facebook manages the challenges that could come up with the use of this feature.
In a chat with Techcrunch, a Facebook spokesman explained that the move aligns with the mission of the company:
“Building informed and civically engaged communities is at the core of Facebook’s mission. Every day, people come together on Facebook to advocate for causes they care about, including by contacting their elected officials, launching a fundraiser, or starting a group. Through these and other tools, we have seen people marshal support for and get results on issues that matter to them. Community Action is another way for people to advocate for changes in their communities and partner with elected officials and government agencies on solutions.”
If this succeeds, it is likely to be an amazing opportunity for citizens to mobilize around different civic related issues; building a community momentum on issues that affect society. We look forward to seeing how the company deals with emergent behaviours as it launches in other markets/countries.
Feature Image: TechCrunch