The company is rolling out a new election product less than two weeks before ballots are due.
You know who’s running for president. How could you not?
But do you know where they stand on the issues? Do you know who’s running for Congress in your district? Or which propositions are on your ballot?
Facebook thinks it can teach you — or at least point you to info so you can teach yourself. The social giant rolled out a new election product Friday that lets you browse the issues and races from your specific ballot, then share with friends who and what you’re voting for.
Discussing politics on social media can be stressful; few people believe social platforms like Facebook actually improve political discourse. The hope is that this new election page will provide an alternative to your News Feed as a place to learn about the issues.
“The problem with News Feed is that there’s often a lot of controversial or vitriolic discussion around politics. People in the comments may be less than polite,” Jeremy Galen, a product marketing manager at Facebook who helped launch the new feature, told Recode. “So what we’re building here is this kind of utility … that gives you the chance to ask questions and get better informed for [election day].”
Facebook wants you to know it’s not presenting anything biased. It’s pulling info from candidate pages and the Center for Technology and Civic Life, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization hoping to “increase civic participation.” So there you go.
Worth noting about the new product is that it requires users to offer up their home address in order for Facebook to determine which issues and races are on your ballot. That obviously won’t sit well with all users, but Galen says your address won’t be visible on your public profile. It will live on Facebook’s servers, though, which means the company could use that information down the line for “other civic engagement products,” Galen said.
Galen wouldn’t disclose what those products will be, but mentioned things like “connecting with elected officials” and mid-term elections.
The new feature is live starting Friday, and exists here or as a separate election tab in the Facebook toolbar.