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Facebook Launches New Page for Congress

Facebook launched a new page Thursday that highlights the profiles of the more than 300 Members of Congress who use the social networking site to connect with constituents.

The webpage — located at facebook.com/congress — lists Member profiles, posts links to articles concerning Congress and highlights Members’ “innovative” uses of the site.

“[W]e’re excited to showcase some of the most innovative uses of our platform on Capitol Hill,” Tim Sparapani, Facebook’s public policy director, said in a press release. “We hope this will encourage even more use of social technologies like Facebook by politicians and government agencies to interact with and serve their constituents.”

Facebook officials decided to create the “Congress on Facebook” page unilaterally, modeling it on a similar effort for executive branch agencies called “Facebook and Government.” But in the past few years, the House and Senate have slowly but steadily worked to ensure that Members can maintain Facebook profiles without violating the chambers’ rules.

In 2008, for example, the House and Senate adopted new rules that allow Members to use third-party sites such as YouTube and Facebook as long as they followed rules that prohibit product endorsement, partisan material or unrelated personal information. The Senate took it a step further this January, reaching an agreement with Facebook that allows Senators to use an approved “template” for their profiles and provides them with “support services.”

Now, more than 300 Members use Facebook, and many actively update their statuses and respond to constituents through the site. The “Congress on Facebook” site culls all that information, presenting visitors with a bird’s-eye view of Congress.

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