It’s been long known that Facebook has long been at odds with government organisations and regulators, with intense public scrutiny over privacy breaches and subsequent episodes of censure over the past year.
Enabling users and lay citizens to create petitions targetted at organisations and specific officials, Facebook Community Actions essentially takes the place of platforms like change.org. It allows users to invite their Facebook network in lobbying for personal, social and political causes.
Launching first in the United States, Facebook’s Community Actions feature adds on to the platform’s proven capability in mobilising individuals for collective causes. Protests and marches have seen great success as a result of Facebook Events due to its visibility and ease of sharing.
In lieu of its Cambridge Analytica data breach scandal, and mounting allegations and concerns about fake news gaining an audience on its platform, Facebook has taken to ensure that community takes the forefront of its users’ experience. Ranging from algorithmic prioritisation of local and reputable news sites on individuals’ news feed, to the Town Hall and Candidate features that enabled greater interaction between politicians and constituents, Facebook finds itself increasingly at the nexus of political issues.
But, in order to combat misuse (of which there has already been plenty of episodes), Facebook will reportedly resort to algorithmic detection alongside user flagging to screen for inappropriate content or episodes of misuse. Right off the bat, all users are unable to tag US President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence – a huge deal in light of the ongoing US governmental shutdown, the longest in the history of the US nation.
The feature will begin to roll out in the US on the 21st of January, though not all users will have immediate access to it. It is unclear if this will be extended to various nations – though it would be interesting to observe, especially in nations with various degrees of political freedom.