29 October, 2019

Does Your Congressperson Support The Impeachment Inquiry? Ask The Common Cause Chatbot On Facebook.


Politicians can run, but they cannot hide from where they stand on the impeachment inquiry.

Common Cause's new Facebook chatbot tells voters where their congressperson stands on the impeachment inquiry – and how to contact them! Politicians are supposed to reflect the will of the people who elected them. But often they're evasive, making it hard for voters to determine their position. How can voters be informed in a fast, accurate and convenient manner? Social media chatbots can provide detailed, customized answers to millions of voters simultaneously. Background Facebook is a force for good and evil. Some spew hatred while others spread disinformation on Facebook. Trolls use it to shout down their opponents and suppress votes. But Facebook’s reach is enormous and it is also a force for good to inform voters with accurate, factual information. Facebook Messenger chatbots can deliver thousands of personalized answers at the same time. A chatbot is a program that interacts with people in a human-like manner. It asks questions and responds with a pre-programmed answer. A chatbot can have thousands of simultaneous personalized conversations via a phone call, text or Facebook Messenger. Setting up a chatbot is fast and affordable. Facebook messages, unlike text messages do not incur a ‘per message’ charge. ‘Impeachment Inquiry’ chatbot Common Cause and DemLabs designed this Facebook Messenger chatbot so voters could find out whether their rep supports the impeachment inquiry and how to contact them. 1. Collect details The chatbot monitors incoming messages on the Common Cause Facebook page. It wakes up when someone types in ‘Impeachment’ and starts a conversation. The chatbot first asks the voter for their address. 2.  Find their congressional rep The chatbot uses the address to look up the voter’s congressional district and rep. from Google Civic APIs. This a free public service from Google. 3. Find the rep’s position on the impeachment inquiry The chatbot then makes a second query to the Common Cause database. This database records whether a congressperson supports the impeachment inquiry or not, and and provides details on how they can be reached via phone or email. Common Cause regularly refreshes their database so the chatbot provides the latest information. 4. Respond The chatbot responds to the voter with a customized Facebook Message that includes their congressperson’s position on the impeachment inquiry and how to contact them. The process is fast. Responses are sent within seconds of a voter entering an address. An informed, engaged citizenry Voters make better decisions when they are fully informed in a timely manner. Chatbots are the ideal tool to provide accurate information to the public quickly and affordably. 1. Print media cannot keep pace with a rapidly changing situation 2. TV and radio programs cannot provide personalized information 3. Websites but don't have the reach of Facebook 4. Phone hotlines are expensive to staff and cannot handle a flood of inquiries Facebook Messenger chatbots have a vast reach and can be integrated with information sources such as Google Civic APIs and Common Cause impeachment database. Chatbots are vital when news may be politicized or politicians just ignore important issues that the public should know about. Takeaway An informed citizenry makes for a healthy democracy. Find out where you congressperson stands by sending the message ‘Impeachment’ to Common Cause on Facebook. Deepak Co-Founder, DemLabs Please share this bulletin. DemLabs is a SF-based, hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation for progressives. Donate here to support our work.

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