In an unsettling turn of events, Facebook may have done something right. As opposed to the company’s usual smooth-operator tactics when it comes to politics on the social media site—manually filtering what news appears based on partisanship, reinforcing bias by preventing you from seeing information that challenges your worldview, and so on—its latest innovation might actually help aid political communication, rather than simply feeding you questionable news about it.
On Monday, the site launched a new feature called “Town Hall,” dedicated to helping people connect with their local elected officials. After entering your address, Facebook then lets you see the representatives from your district, giving you the chance to follow their Facebook pages for updates. Better still, there’s also a “contact” button, which gives you the opportunity to call, message (via FB Messenger), or email your respective politicians. The various elected representatives of your state and local governing bodies will probably hate it, but it’s a good way of increasing civic engagement, a.k.a. the thing most representatives tend to wish there was less of, because it forces them to have to do irritating things like listen to their constituents.
Town Hall is also integrated into the Facebook news feed, meaning if you see a post by one of your local reps that inspires you to like or comment on it, you’ll then see a prompt giving you the option of contacting them. So the next time your local congressional representative says some dumb shit, you can let them know directly just how dumb it is. Conversely, if they choose to rap Notorious B.I.G. songs on the congressional floor, you can suggest which tracks they should cover next.