(Credit: Lance Whitney)

You're fighting for a cause that affects your community. Maybe you feel your city needs dedicated bike lanes in a specific area or a new theatre downtown or a moratorium on oil drilling. Whatever the cause, you can now enlist the aid of Facebook to shine a light on it.

SEE: Ultimate Guide to Facebook Privacy and Security

Currently rolling out to users in the US, a new Facebook tool called Community Action is designed to help you drum up support for changes you feel will improve your community. Using Community Action, you create an online petition that highlights your cause. You can then invite other people to support your cause. You can also tag government officials to make them aware of your effort.

The Internet gives us power to fight for causes we believe in. Through such sites as Change.org and The White House's Petition page, you can generate online petitions to attract other people to your cause and ultimately make a change. With more than 200 million users in the US and 1.8 billion worldwide, Facebook is a fertile area for finding people who may share your concerns. Unlike your private posts, Community Action is a public feature, so anyone on Facebook can see your petition.

With your Community Action petition, you describe what specific change you want to see, why the change would enhance your community and which government officials could get involved to make the change happen. People who support your cause can click the Support button and share their own testimonies through stories and videos to explain why they feel this change is important. The government officials whom you tag are notified of the petition and given the chance to respond to lend their support to your cause.

Facebook has been testing Community Action in select markets over the past few weeks. The latest expansion of the pilot will see the feature roll out to more people in the US. Given the rollout, you may not yet see the Community Action feature appear everywhere you access Facebook. I found the feature on the Facebook website but not in the Facebook mobile apps (download for Android and iOS). A Facebook spokesperson told Download.com that the feature will show up in the iOS and Android apps as well as the website. But it might not yet be available given the phased approach to the expansion of the pilot.

Of course, there is a potential downside here. In today's perilous political climate, disreputable people and groups could use Community Action to try to advance a dangerous and harmful agenda. Facebook has been slowly rolling out the feature as a way to monitor for any type of abuse.

To create your own petition, go to the Explore section on your Facebook page and look for Community Actions. Click on that option and then click the Get Started button. At the window to Create a Community Action, click the Create button. Type a name for your Community Action and upload a relevant photo or video. Specify a location, what you want to happen, which government officials should be alerted, and which categories relate to your cause. You can then preview a draft of your petition and push it live.

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  1. Facebook is rolling out a feature called Community Actions through which you can create your own online petition.
  2. Through Community Actions, you can describe your cause, explain why you feel it's important, and tag government officials who could implement the change you seek.

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Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books - "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time" and "Teach Yourself VISUALLY LinkedIn."