Facebook releases “Town Hall” feature, allowing users to contact representatives


Graphic by Avery Johnston.

By Elyssa Seltzer

You’re scrolling through Facebook when you notice an article about a proposed new policy on a controversial issue. Concerned, you want to contact your representative to voice your opposition to the measure. With Facebook’s newest feature, you effortlessly can.

Facebook launched a new “Town Hall” feature March 27 that allows users to directly contact their representatives through the social media site. By entering their address into the “Town Hall” to locate their region’s representatives or by “liking” or commenting on a post made by a congressman, Facebook users receive an automatic invite to contact that representative.

The goal of the Town Hall tool is to encourage political activism by allowing users to easily and efficiently contact federal, state and local representatives through a more accessible medium. The feature is also part of a larger effort by Facebook to combat the rise in fake news circulating through the social media website, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a live video following the release.

Students and staff have found this feature a positive addition to the social media platform.

“I certainly think this would be a step in the right direction for making it [Facebook] more reliable,” social studies teacher Kirk Shipley said.

Town Hall allows people of all ages to connect to their government representatives, an opportunity that students under 18 said they appreciate because it gives them a way to get involved even though they are unable to vote.

“Turning 18 just several weeks after the election was so frustrating,” senior Michelle Hearn said. “But with Town Hall, I still have an opportunity to talk to people in each level of the government.”

Representatives themselves also say they find the Town Hall feature helpful. Montgomery County councilmember Hans Riemer has gained many followers as a result of Town Hall.

“I think that I will need to change how I use Facebook as a result of Town Hall,” Riemer said. “Now, clearly I will be able to reach a large new audience.”

Following Town Hall’s launch, many have praised the accessibility it offers for contacting officials and promoting active citizenship.

“The more you engage with the political process, the more you can ensure it reflects your values,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in his press release in the Facebook newsroom. “This is an important part of feeling connected to your community and your democracy, and it’s something we’re increasingly focused on at Facebook.”