Do Facebook users care about politics?

According to the New York Times, the ABC television network has signed a deal with a social-networking site you might have heard of — a little site called Facebook — that will allow users of Facebook to “follow” reporters through the U.S. election and talk about the issues, and also pose questions for political debates that will be jointly sponsored by ABC and Facebook. Not exactly a new idea, as many have pointed out.

Caroline McCarthy of CNET doesn’t think Facebook or ABC News are going to have much success with this idea because, well… Facebook users see “the site as a platform for social recreation, not information consumption.” In other words, they’re too busy goofing around with Super-Pokes and sharing photos of each other staggering drunk at frat parties. I’m extrapolating, but I think that’s more or less what Caroline means.

Is that true, though? I know that Facebook started out as just for university students, but the user base has broadened considerably, I would argue. There has been a tremendous response to issues such as the Burmese army attacks, not to mention Iraq and other U.S. issues. Admittedly, people still primarily use Facebook for social purposes, but I don’t think that necessarily precludes there being a political aspect to it as well.

On the other hand, maybe this announcement between Facebook and ABC is just a lot of blather and not much will come of it. Even All Facebook’s Nick O’Neill doesn’t seem to think it amounts to much.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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