Social Media Permeates Throughout Presidential Debates

Cross-posted from Social Studies:

The days of watching a Presidential or Vice Presidential Debate without a scroll on the bottom of the television screen is long gone. This year, CNN showed real-time results from dial testing focus groups, Bloomberg and CNBC scrolled stock tickers and Fox News featured SMS text polling and results (e.g., Text VOTE to 36288).

But that’s old news and still a one-way information flow (yawn!).

The year 2008 will be remembered as the year social media enabled anyone with an Internet connection to help add their perspective to the debates.

During the Presidential Debate last week, Libertarian Candidate Bob Barr — uninvited to the formal Obama/McCain debate — answered moderator questions and provided McBama counter-points in realtime through Mogulus. Comments were enabled on the online streaming portal, so viewers could participate and help shape the discussion.

During both the Presidential and Vice Presidential Debates, Current TV featured a bleeding-edge offering called “Hack the Debate.” With the aid of Twitter, Current integrated real-time Twitter messages (a.k.a. “tweets”) from users along the bottom of the broadcast window on Current TV. Anyone who included the word “#current” in their tweets had the chance to see their micromedia commentary aired worldwide.

Here are some video highlights from the Presidential Debate last week.

Sometimes the comments added value — “You know who I feel bad for? The “lower” class. The poor. Who is going to fight for them? It’s a shame. No one mentions them.” (@davidbadash)

And sometimes the comments provided comic relief when things were getting too serious — “The moderator might as well just say “BOOPITY DOOPITY WAKAWOOWOO” because they’re just talking about what they want, anyway” (@rightasrayne)

But with my laptop on my lap, phone at my side and television remote nearby, social media allowed me the opportunity to glean what people across the country thought of the debate question-by-question and afforded an opportunity to voice my perspective (and snarky comments) to the masses.

Social media spiced up the age-old, one-way debate format this year, and it will never be the same.

In the words of @mikethomas84, “the only winner in this debate is the internet.”

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One thought on “Social Media Permeates Throughout Presidential Debates

  1. Greg, nice piece. And thanks for feeling my comment “added value”. The rich are spoken for, the middle class, although used for political purposes, is at least mentioned, but the poor, well, few speak for them. And they need our help the most. (BTW, I’m now following you on Twitter. I’m @davidbadash.)

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