Facebook Introduces ‘Community Actions’, An All-New Petition Feature

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated July 12, 2021

Facebook launches a new petition feature called “Community Actions”, allowing people to create online petitions targeted at local communities or even at the national level. With referendums not being a guaranteed constitutional right in most countries today, it seems that social media platforms are filling in the gap, offering a pseudo-sense of democratic procedures in their purest form. As much as these online petitions leave to be desired on the legal framework front, they can still act as the rigid levers that put pressure on politicians, especially when signed and supported by many. Facebook is maybe the best place to gather large crowds, so this new feature can potentially have a global impact.


Image Credits: TechCrunch

Of course, no new feature comes without risk of usage abuse, and Facebook has extensive experience on that part. Petitions that prompt to violent, abusive, or racistic actions are just a couple of possible and unfortunately probable examples of the sideways that some are bound to take, so Facebook’s reviewers will have one more major headache to deal with. If policy and moderation are essential in user posts, they will be absolutely crucial with Community Actions, as time-sensitive topics will have to reach out to the world as soon as possible while still being in full compliance with the policy guidelines.

Community Actions will become available to US-based users in the following days, after having been thoroughly tested in various markets around the globe. Users will be able to create their own petitions, adding a title, description, and even an image, while the tagging capacity will ensure that the concerned agencies and officials will receive a relevant notification. Other users will then be able to click on a “Support” button, which will automatically add the specific Community Action to their feed, propagating the message to more people, quickly and effectively. Facebook has designed this feature to make it easy to go viral, but privacy is still ensured by allowing only the names of friends and public figures to be shown in the Community Action page.

Facebook promotes local-scale Community Actions over world-changing petitions so if you want to compel president Trump to stop tweeting, you’re out of luck. You won’t be able to tag high-standing officials on Community Actions, as this tool is intended to be used to address petitions to locally elected officials. To strengthen the requests, Facebook can also add “constituent” badges to the petition creator, so the receptor sees that it comes from their voters base. If this is extended to the supporters, it could potentially give the petition an even higher impact.

Do you have any unusual petition ideas for your local governor? Feel free to share them in the comments below, and do the same on our Facebook and Twitter.

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