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Facebook, CNN team up to add social data to 2012 election coverage

CNN and Facebook add social to 2012 election

The 2012 national election just got a lot more social, whether you like it or not. CNN and Facebook announced today a partnership that promises to deliver more of what you are thinking about the candidates, the issues, and everything in between. 

The first part of this enhanced election reporting is an “I’m Voting” Facebook app, which “will enable people who use Facebook to commit to voting and endorse specific candidates and issues,” according to the announcement. Users of the app can also commit to vote in November. Anyone who makes such a commitment through the app will have the promise posted to their timelines, news-feeds, and real-time tickers, apparently as an incentive to stick with the vow. CNN says this app will serve as a “second screen” in addition to CNN’s traditional 2012 election reporting, as CNN journalists “personalities” will use the app to ask voters questions about the election. 

Next up is some good ol’ fashion data crunching. Facebook will apparently monitor everything people say about President Obama, Vice President Biden, Mitt Romney, and his not-yet-unveiled running mate, then hand over those “metrics” to CNN, which will in turn “drill down on specific state-by-state analysis.” 

Finally, Facebook and CNN will post surveys to the U.S. Politics page on and around the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, presidential debates, and other high-profile election events. Only voting-age Facebook users will be able to take part in these polls. Results will be published on CNN, CNN.com, and Facebook.

It is difficult to know what exactly to think about this move. On the one hand, more information about voters can theoretically lead to more accurate assessments about how the nation is feeling about candidates and issues. On the other hand, the Internet is a notoriously terrible place to get accurate data. People lie. People hack polls. Only people with extreme views respond. Plus, Americans are generally tight-lipped about who they plan to vote for — the exact opposite of what CNN and Facebook want people to do. I, for one, am not particularly secretive about my political views — but I am on Facebook. The last time I posted anything even remotely political, I ended up in an aggravating, unproductive argument with an old classmate’s mother for days. After that, I swore off making overt political declarations on Facebook, simply to avoid the hassle. Something tells me I’m not alone. 

What do you think? Do you want to help CNN report the 2012 election by posting your views Facebook? Why, or why not?