Facebook announced Wednesday it is rolling out several tools to the social media site to help elected officials better connect with their constituents and to learn more about them. The “civic engagement” features are called constituent badges, constituent insights and district targeting.
The features are additions to the “Town Hall” feature released in March to help Facebook users find their elected officials and connect with them over the social media site and app. The features unveiled Wednesday will make that interaction a two-way street by helping those elected officials better understand and interact with their constituents.
Constituent badges are a feature users can turn on or off to let elected officials know they’re one of the people that elected official is representing. A small badge icon along with your name will indicated that you're a constituent when you interact with that elected official on Facebook. This can help the official identify and respond to the people they specifically represent much like they would respond to a phone call, letter or email.
How to turn constituent badges on or off:
To activate your constituent badge you can go to the Town Hall section of Facebook, this is listed along the left side of your home page under “Explore,” if you’re on the web platform. On mobile you can access Town Hall by selecting the icon that looks like three horizontal lines at the bottom right corner of your screen. Once you select Town Hall, look at the right side of the page (web) or scroll to the bottom of the page (mobile) to turn your constituent badge on or off. If it’s on, your elected officials (and everyone else on Facebook) will be able to see that you live within the district or area that they represent indicated with the badge next to any comments you make on their posts.
Facebook added the constituent badge feature to promote civic engagement.
“Constituent Insights” is another feature Facebook added Wednesday, allowing officials to see which stories their constituents are sharing and which are most important to them. It will feature a scroll of the top shared stories in that district. It also gives officials something to connect with their constituents over and shows them what is important to the people they represent.
Lastly, Facebook added “District Targeting,” which allows elected officials to target specific posts and messages to people who are likely their constituents. They can post polls or engage in targeted conversations to get a feel for how their constituents feel on a certain topic.
Such tools can be particularly useful for elected officials who spend a lot of time in Washington and want to stay connected with their constituents back home or officials who are traveling. Lately, some elected officials have been refusing or avoiding meetings with their constituents, something that will be more difficult now that those people will be clearly indicated on Facebook and will have an easier way of connecting.