Social media renders rapid judgment on debate
BY Associated Press
Friday, October 05, 2012
10/05/12 at 5:36 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) - Big Bird is endangered. Jim Lehrer lost control. And Mitt Romney crushed President Barack Obama.
Those were the judgments rendered across Twitter and Facebook Wednesday during the first debate of the 2012 presidential contest. While millions turned on their televisions to watch the 90-minute showdown, a smaller but highly engaged subset took to social networks to discuss and score the debate as it unspooled in real time.
Until recently, debate watchers would have waited through the entire broadcast to hear analysis and reaction from a small cadre of television pundits. Social media has democratized the commentary, giving voice to a far wider range of participants who can shape the narrative long before the candidates reach their closing statements.
"People still use old media to watch the debates, but they use social networks and other new media to have influence, voice opinions and be involved," said Scott Talan, an assistant professor of communication at American University who studies social media and politics. "Old media is not dead; it's growing. But now we have more people involved and engaged because of digital means."
The political conversation plays out across a range of social platforms, especially on Facebook and on Twitter, where opinions are shared through 140-character comments known as tweets. Reflecting the changing times, many television analysts now monitor Twitter and Facebook feeds and use information gleaned from those platforms to inform their punditry.
Twitter announced shortly after Wednesday's debate that it had been the most tweeted event in U.S. political history, topping this year's Republican and Democratic National Conventions.
Twitter scored Romney the debate's clear winner according to Peoplebrowsr, a Web analytics firm. The group found 47,141 tweets mentioning Romney and "win or winner" compared to just 29,677 mentioning Obama and "win or winner."
Google announced the debate's four most searched terms: Simpson-Bowles (the bipartisan fiscal commission Obama appointed); Dodd-Frank (a Democratic-backed financial reform law); Who is Winning the Debate; and Big Bird.
Original Print Headline: Social media pass instant judgment