NBC and Facebook are teaming up to co-host a Republican debate Sunday night with a unique social media component.
The debate, moderated by Meet the Press host David Gregory, will air on NBC Sunday, Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. ET, two days before the New Hampshire primary. The debate will also be streaming live on MSNBC.com and on Facebook, allowing political junkies to tune-in online.
Users who watch online (or on T.V. while online) will be able to submit questions directly to candidates via a Facebook widget. They will also be able to interact with one another in real-time as part of a comprehensive “second screen” experience, a setup familiar to many television fans.
“By allowing people to connect in an authentic and meaningful way with presidential candidates, we hope more voters than ever will get involved with issues that matter most to them.” said Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Global Communications, Marketing and Public Policy at Facebook, in a statement.
The story refers to the event as the first-ever social media debate, but Twitter and YouTube have already been in the debate business.
NBC is also using Facebook to gauge public opinion, as Jeff Sonderman reports at Poynter:
As the 2012 elections finally begin, NBC News has been polling the public to see what issues concern them the most. What’s unusual is that it collected the data not by phone interviews, but through Facebook.
The polling is one piece of a larger partnership between NBC and Facebook, including a co-sponsored Republican candidates debate on “Meet The Press” this Sunday. MTP is crowdsourcing questions for the candidates throughcomments on its Facebook page, and the debate will stream live online along a Facebook live chat window.
The attempt at statistically sound polling is the most noteworthy innovation so far. It raises the question: Is it possible to conduct a scientifically valid opinion poll through a social networking site?
So far, online polling has been a wasteland for “external validity” — the ability to say responses from the sample group accurately represent the views of the total population.
The simple daily polls embedded in the right-hand sidebars of many news sites do not even attempt external validity. Professional pollsters derisively nickname them SLOP (for “self-selected opinion polls”), because “respondents who volunteer to participate in such surveys tend to be more extreme or otherwise very different in their views than those who do not,” says the American Association for Public Opinion Research. [emphasis added]The article, however, goes on to describe ways in which the Facebook poll is an improvement on other such efforts.