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Arkansas congressman halts Facebook access, switches to text

May 14, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas congressman has deactivated his office Facebook page after expressing concern over the social media platform’s recent involvement in the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford shut down his Facebook page last month, and recently wrote a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg airing his concerns about “the privacy of my constituents, and their exposure to foreign misinformation.”

Crawford, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, is now inviting constituents to contact his office by text instead of Facebook Messenger, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. Crawford said texting will make it easier to identify Arkansas residents and hear their concerns.

“I really started thinking about this last year because of all of the commercialization of the (Facebook) platform,” he said. “We’re trying to engage our constituents in a nonpolitical environment and yet they’re really inundated with politics, so I wanted to change that and do away with that.”

The texting line was unveiled last week and is still in early stages. Crawford launched the system with the help of OpenGov Foundation, a tech company aiming to better connect government leaders with their constituents.

Lawmakers in Washington can struggle to keep up with letters, emails, voicemails and tweets they receive, said Seamus Kraft, the foundation’s executive director.

“When Congress was founded ... each member of the House of Representatives represented about 29,000 constituents,” he said. “Today, every member of Congress represents between 750,000 and 800,000.”

Kraft said texting will help Crawford cut through the noise and connect with the people he represents.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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