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New Facebook Open Graph App Makes Lawmaking Social, Brings House Bills To The Crowds

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, March 20 2012

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor unveiled a clever new Facebook app Tuesday called Citizen CoSponsor. The app enables people to use Facebook to track the progress of House legislation as it makes its way through the chamber, but also provides the majority leader's office with an interesting new grassroots marketing tool for the Republican party's ideas.

The new app makes use of Facebook's Open Graph protocol, which means that once installed, updates to legislation that a user has expressed support for can be automatically posted to their Facebook profiles. It also means that these updates show up in users' timelines, newsfeeds and tickers, giving the legislation more exposure to users' networks of friends.

For now, the list of legislation that citizens can choose to support is controlled, of course, by Cantor's office and is listed on a section of his web site. Citizens can click to "co-sponsor" legislation that they support, and see all the other citizen co-sponsors who've expressed their support. Each widget for each piece of legislation also shows a visual storyline of that legislation's progress through the House. Cantor's office has also created a widget that enables supporters to embed the legislative app into their own web pages.

"After people CoSponsor, they are able to leave comments; we plan on including something like [Congressman] Issa's
MADISON program into this as well," said Matt Lira, Cantor's digital director. "While this is an evolutionary process, I would expect for people to be able to
annotate, etc. in the future."

"We want to better connect the public with the legislative process itself - in the end, we are hoping to engage with this country's cognitive surplus to improve the legislative process," he added.

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