In addition to meddling with US elections, helping spread fake news, and violating user privacy, Facebook has also been repeatedly accused of either being a venue for inciting dissent and not doing enough to give users a voice.
It seems that Facebook will be answering both with just a single new feature: Community Actions. At its most basic, the Community Actions feature will become the social network’s own version of a petition feature. A petition feature that will let supporters discuss and gather other Facebook users to their causes. The feature will roll out in the U.S. starting Monday and then should be in Zimbabwe in the coming weeks.
Facebook is already being used to gather people together for a common cause, though, before today, there is no feature that formally supports it. You may get some pages or accounts that have been made specifically for an advocacy or an Event created to rally supporters. Well, this new Community Actions petition feature not only provides such a platform but also a more private (and personal) place to discuss related matters as compared to platforms like Charge.org.
Recently, there was a petition that was launched on Change.org that sought to ban President Mnangagwa from attending the Davos, World Economic Forum. That petition may well have been launched on Facebook’s Community Action and probably garnerned more than the 60K signatures (at the time of writing) it garnered on Change.org
How it will the Community actions petition feature works
As reported by TechCrunch, users can create a topic in “Community Actions” and then add a description, further explaining about the petition. Other people will either add their own comments to the topic and even start a fundraiser campaign. People can also hit a “Support” button that will tell how many people support the petition. While the topic is running, Facebook will show the number of people who support the thread, showing names of friends or Pages and public figures.
As an example, TechCrunch showed the screenshot of a Community Action relating to putting more recycling bins in a public park. Another example asked the governor to put a moratorium on oil and gas drilling.
But Facebook may have created another Frankenstein
As good as the idea might be, the feature will probably cause more problems for Facebook. No doubt the feature will be abused and some causes might be created with bad intent. Even without Community Actions, Facebook has already been criticized for either allowing too much “free speech” in favor of the left (radical views) or censoring it in favor of the right (conservatives views). Accordingly, the major detail Facebook has so far left out is how ‘inflammatory’ opinions will be dealt with.