US presidential debate an online sensation

October 4, 2012 by Glenn Chapman in Technology / Internet
US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, October 3, during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. From YouTube to Xbox videogame consoles, people tuned into the US presidential debate online and weighed in so intensely that it became Twitter's hottest US political event

From YouTube to Xbox videogame consoles, people tuned into the US presidential debate online and weighed in so intensely that it became Twitter's hottest US political event.

While those attending the debate between President and challenger agreed to be silent while the men sparred verbally on stage, the Internet raged with comments and critiques.

By half-way through the debate, the top 10 "hashtags" being pegged on messages at Twitter were related to the exchange.

"Tonight's debate was the most tweeted about event in US political history," said Twitter, the globally popular one-to-many text messaging service.

During a debate deemed by social media repartee to be lacking in clear knock-out moments, a comment by Obama was tagged with a "#zinger" hashtag.

Obama spotlighted a seeming shift in Romney's tax reform plan, saying his opponent's "big bold idea is 'Never mind'."

Romney maintained he would save tax dollars by cutting money for programs such as public television broadcasting despite his love of the Big Bird character on educational program "Sesame Street" met with mockery.

Someone started a "FireBigBird" account at Twitter and "SupportBigBird" quickly became a trending tag for missives at the social network.

The rival political camps jockeyed for attention at Twitter, where the group Mitt Romney for President Inc. paid to have a "CantAfford4More" hashtag elevated to the top position.

Obama's campaign paid to have a urging support for the president "promoted" to the top of the stream for the main commentary venue, posts with "#debates" hashtags.

It costs at least $120,000 daily to have a tag prompted to the top of global trend charts at Twitter, according to the website 140Elect which specializes in tools and strategies for using the social network.

People used Twitter and online forums linked to streaming video of the debate to give their weigh in with opinions and suggested questions.

A suggestion that Romney be pushed for details regarding what programs or services he would eliminate to "pay for tax cuts for millionaires" was retweeted more than a thousand times.

While those making comments appeared to seize on points or counterpoints supporting their sides, Romney seeming to "bully" the moderator and Obama appearing weary.

"This Romney dude is just rude," one tweeter chirped, while another inquired as to whether the real Obama was stayed home for the event.

Microsoft's Xbox Live online service for users of its popular operated its own election hub, with users being offered the chance to submit comments and questions about the performance of the candidates.

Microsoft and its polling partner YouGov prompted viewers with questions through the debate, and then shared the overall results.

Xbox Live polls indicated that 59 percent of viewers would vote for Obama if the election where that day as compared to 27 percent for Romney.

Spot polls consistently showed that more than half of those watching felt Obama's positions on issues debated were more in line with their thinking.

Website put its own spin on the debate by making cartoonish or clever animations, referred to as GiFs, out of bits of debate video in as the exchange was underway.

After the candidates left the stage, the debate continued to be rehashed in online forums but eventually attention turned to other topics.

"It is safe to come back to Twitter," one member of the social network tweeted late in the night here.

(c) 2012 AFP

"US presidential debate an online sensation" October 4, 2012