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Facebook is adding community-based petitions. Can you trust them?

Aside from being in constant contact with our friends and the occasional acquaintance from long ago, the rise of social media has also given us a direct line to celebrities, brands and politicians. With these seemingly omnipresent digital feeds, anyone can complain, make demands and voice their opinions, in hopes that the relevant parties will actually listen.

However, most of the time, these thoughts just get lost in the social media hustle and bustle. Don’t you wish there’s an even better way to voice out your demands? No? Well, it’s coming anyway.

Well, it looks like Facebook has a few ideas, Soon, the social media giant will give everyone a chance to push through with a cause and, even better, constantly poke local politicians in the process, too,

Facebook Community Actions

Facebook is launching a new section named Community Actions, a built-in petitions feature on its News Feed.

Similar to other petition services like, this feature will give Facebook users a way to inform local and national elected officials about changes they want to happen in their community.

For example, you can create a petition about a particular issue, tag relevant politicians and organizations then share it to get others to support your cause.

Supporters of your petition can then discuss the topic on its dedicated Facebook page and even create fundraisers and other events.

Community Actions is now rolling out and expect it to appear on your Facebook News Feed in the coming days.

This is not the first time Facebook has launched community-based tools. Remember, it already has other tools like Town Hall, Candidate Info and Community Help that can facilitate your involvement in local politics and events.

Do online petitions work?

The idea behind Community Actions may sound good, but as we’ve witnessed so often in the past, it could be yet another Facebook feature  used to gather data about you. It’s also vulnerable to abuse.

To combat potentials for abuse, Facebook will reportedly rely on its usual tools – user reporting, algorithmic detection and human moderators. (There are also limits on whom you can tag. Right now, you can’t tag President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.)

Do online petitions work? Depends on what you mean by “work.” They might not effect change, but they can be useful in raising awareness about issues and inspiring people to get more involved. The jury’s out on whether they actually work.

The real question is, why is Facebook launching this feature? Techcrunch reported that a Facebook spokesperson said the reason for the petition feature is to support Facebook’s mission of “building informed and civically engaged communities.”

We don’t doubt that human-moderated Facebook petitions might thwart trolls and create a safe place for public discourse. But we question the motivations behind such petitions, and you should too.

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