With just under a year until the 2008 presidential election, ABC News and Facebook have partnered to launch an online political initiative that will combine the latest news from the campaign trail with a variety of discussion and interactive forums.
By combining the technology of Facebook with editorial content from ABC News and ABCNEWS.com, the U.S. Politics application will give the site's 56 million active members ways to learn about and debate the issues in the upcoming election, the companies said.
"We thought it would be a great opportunity for us to make available to the people already having the ongoing discussion and debate on Facebook the full range of ABC News political reporting," said David Westin, president of ABC News.
ABC News' political reporting will similarly be influenced by Facebook users. Discussions and reactions by Facebook members will play into how ABC News approaches its coverage of campaign events, Westin added.
Members can subscribe to the profiles of ABC News reporters who will be embedded with presidential hopefuls throughout the campaign. Each reporter will continually post up-to-the-minute news stories, blogs and photographs documenting the behind-the-scenes action from the road directly onto Facebook, according to ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co. and includes this Web site.
Members can trade thoughts and opinions in a section of the application called Debate Groups. The Debate Groups tool is also expected to be a well-trafficked forum during the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions, according to the network.
"The goal is to extend the debate from being a one-hour session that happens on television to a dialogue that can take place before, after and now during the debate between voters," said Dan Rose, Facebook's vice president of business development. "We're all about providing technology platforms to enable and facilitate information flow and dialogue."
The U.S. Politics application will also poll Facebook users' reactions about campaign issues in the Pulses section, where they will also be able to view and track the aggregate opinions of fellow users on key topics. Official ABC News poll results will also be accessible through the application.
Westin and Rose agreed that the viral nature of Facebook, which provides a network for members by alerting them to the online activity of friends, will further extend the reach of the application.
"There is a special connection among the people who use Facebook," said Westin. "They interact with one another and that provides a very special and different environment for political discourse and debate among people who know each other and follow one another."
To access the application, search for "U.S. Politics" in the search field of Facebook.com.