Politicians can gain better insight into their voters with new Facebook update

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Facebook is digging fingers deeper into the political pie — but this time, the new features are geared largely toward politicians, not voters. On Wednesday, the social media platform shared a video detailing new civic engagement features that allow politicians to see which users actually live in the district that they represent.

The three new tools build on Facebook’s Town Hall feature launched earlier this year, allowing lawmakers to see which commenters live in their district, discover what topics voters in their area are talking about, and to share posts with only the users that they represent. While the tools are designed to help politicians see which issues matter to their constituents most, users have to turn on the feature for it to work.

When users comment on a post from a political representative, a pop-up informs users of the new feature. Users can then go into the Town Hall section to add their address — which Facebook says is not shared publicly — and determine what districts they live in. Users with the constituent badge turned on will have a small icon next to their name when commenting on a politician’s page, allowing the representative to see which comments are actually from the people they were elected to represent, at least for users that choose to turn the feature on. Users outside the area or with the badge turned off will not have the icon next to their names.

The second new feature is like Page Insights data, but for politicians. The Constituent Insights tab allows politicians to see which topics their constituents are talking about, showing things like spikes in discussions about anything from crime rates to the budget, according to The Hill. Unlike Trending Topics, these analytics aren’t limited to just news stories.

And if politicians want to get insight on a specific topic, the pages for representatives now have the option for district targeting. Similar to how advertisers can target a specific area, this feature allows posts to show up only to users with an address inside that politician’s district. The feature appears to work for anything from status updates and polls to live videos.

“Election Day reminders for us are just the beginning of the conversation,” Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan, told The Hill during a meeting at the social media platform’s Washington D.C. headquarters on Wednesday.

The Town Hall features launched in March gave users easy access to information regarding their elected officials, based on location, including the ability to tag political contact information in a post.

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