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Facebook rolls out new “Town Hall” feature

Last month, Facebook rolled out a new “Town Hall” feature, which allows users to locate, follow and contact their state and federal government representatives. Early reporting stated that the feature would also include “local” officials, but as of this user’s testing, it only currently includes state and federal representatives. According to the Erie County Board of Elections, there will be over 120 local races up for re-election in 2017. Historically, voter turnout in a local election year is only a small fraction of all registered voters. Still, it’s a great concept that will hopefully grow as more users take advantage of the new usability.

Facebook confirmed in a news release that the feature is now available to all U.S. users, and includes News Feed announcements. Facebook also announced that this year it will launch local election reminders to encourage voter turnout. Local election reminders will appear for all state, county, and municipal elections with a population of over 10,000 people, and will include both primaries and general elections.

According to an article by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa) on Techcrunch.com,The changes follow Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent penning of a nearly 6,000-word manifesto where he discussed a number of ambitions for the social network in the days ahead. One of these was focused on using the network to increase civic engagement – a tacit acknowledgement of the role Facebook plays in today’s political landscape.” Also, according to Ms. Perez’s article, “The company has already been running reminders at the top of the News Feed for national elections since 2008 – something it says has increased voter turnout. Here, Facebook cited its own internal research and a study in the Nature journal, which had found that its 2010 message impacted real-world turnout by 340,000 votes.”

To find the “Town Hall” feature got to the settings menu

Scroll down to “Apps”

Click “Town Hall” for a menu of your representatives based on your address location.

Make sure you opt-in to receive Election Day reminders, by selecting the button at the bottom of the list. By selecting “Contact” a menu will pop-up that allows you to call, message, join their page, or email the rep. After doing so, users will then be prompted to share a post saying that they contacted the rep, as a means of encouraging their friends to do the same.

 

Click here for a guide of all local elected officials You can like and follow the Erie County Board of Elections (@ErieCountyNYBOE) for more voter and election information.

Lead photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Written by Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli

Jessica Marinelli is a WNY native, born and raised in the Lincoln Park area of Tonawanda. She has been involved in local politics from an early age and is currently a Tonawanda Democratic Committee Member. As an avid equestrian and animal-lover, she trained and re-homed over 40 horses. For over a decade, she was an event planner with the law firm, Hodgson Russ LLP, and now owns her own marketing and event management company. She has worked with international and national organizations on large and small scale events. Jessica writes on politics and local events, as well as working with Buffalo Rising as a social reporter.

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