Hackernoon logoElection 2016: technology, social media, and the political process by@asandre

Election 2016: technology, social media, and the political process

Andreas Sandre Hacker Noon profile picture

Andreas Sandre

Comms + policy. Author of #digitaldiplomacy (2015), Twitter for Diplomats (2013). My views here.

A guide to the debates and the candidates’ positions, courtesy of Silicon Valley.

The presidential debate frenzy is full on. And Silicon Valley has many solutions for us to watch the debates online and to better understand the candidates’ position on issues like foreign policy, immigration, and more.

As reported by The Hill, Facebook has recently started to rollout a new feature that allows political candidates to post their positions on a range of issues to their Facebook page. Their positions, sketched out in short blurbs, will be visible to users in October.

Samidh Chakrabarti, product manager for civic engagement at Facebook, told The Hill that, the new feature is in response to the heightened online interest and conversation around the 2016 elections, at both the national and local level.

Facebook’s new Issues tab for political Pages is a great way for candidates to connect with potential voters by sharing clear and direct statements about what they stand for and what they believe.

Facebook and many other technology and social media companies like Twitter, Google, Snapchat, and Medium were all in attendance at the two conventions this past summer. Facebook, which partnered with ABC News, received 28 million video views, according to CNET.

And Facebook, which has partnered once again with ABC News to stream the debates and the vice presidential debate, is not the only platform to track and package information about the candidates and their positions, and to invest heavily on streaming the debates.

Twitter, which was a partner of CBS News during the conventions, has recently announced a new partnership with Bloomberg to stream the three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate on the micro blogging platform.

Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that livestreaming the debates with live commentary and conversation will create a one-screen experience “unlike any other.”

Twitter is where the 2016 presidential election is happening every single day.

Meanwhile, Google will also livestream the debates on Youtube, with coverage from PBS, Fox News, Telemundo, Bloomberg, and The Washington Post. The coverage also includes popular YouTube channels, including The Young Turks and Complex News, sharing live videos from the debates. The company, which recently launched the Community tab in a public beta, is presenting the debates as part of its #voteIRL campaign to encourage people to register to vote and take part in the 2016 election.

As announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), Snapchat will be also covering the debates on-site via Live Story, offering the many different perspectives of students from the debate host universities, volunteers, media and many others. “These compilations of Snaps are designed to encourage the conversation long after each debate is over,” the CPD said.

But if you’re looking for a new way to watch the debates, think VR.

Virtual reality is going to be the main ingredient of NBC News stream in partnership with AltspaceVR in their Virtual Democracy Plaza, available for Samsung GearVR, Oculus Rift, and Vive.

Silicon Valley has been at work for months to better the way we experience the political process online.

Back in March, the Associated Press partnered with Google News Lab and Twitter Public Policy to launch AP Election Buzz, a real-time tool that tracks interest in the elections. The tool, which calculates a Google Political Index that represents Google search interest in political terms, also offers an insight into the candidates and issues driving the national political conversation. It also shows real-time data on the political conversation on Twitter, including most mentioned issues and most mentioned candidates.

Via AP Election Buzz (as of September 16, 2016)

In addition, the Google search engine offers curated landing pages for the two presidential candidates, with information about their stances on specific political issues, links to articles, and the amount of money raised so far.

Google Search (as of September 16, 2016)

Similarly, search engine Bing maintains its own election landing page, which it called Election 2016 Bing Political Index, first launched during the primaries. The tool compares political issues across candidates and states based on data from ontheissues.org and on Bing Predicts analysis of public sentiment. It also includes a Search Wave using anonymized search data.

“It’s really aimed at taking the cacophony of information out there around the election, and really putting a simple, objective and clear view of where candidates stand on the issues,” Ryan Gavin, Microsoft’s general manager of search, told WIRED in December 2015.

Meanwhile, PBS NewsHour together with technology partner Microsoft have created WatchTheDebates.org, an interactive platform that allows users to access every general election debate since 1960, screen entire debates or debate highlights, and track how candidates have addressed specific issues in the debates over the years. Users can react to the debates and compare their responses with others through a unique interactive experience.

Similarly, but more focus on analytics, MIT Media Lab’s Electome Project will be analyzing Twitter conversations about the election, including a a web-based, sign-up only dashboard in the debate site media filing centers that journalists can use to track and visualize how these conversations are changing before, during and after each debate.

Drawing from areas of computer science including machine learning, natural language processing, and network analysis, we explore how three separate forces — the campaign journalism, the messaging of the candidates, and the public’s response in the digital sphere — converge to shape the presidential election’s most important narratives as well as its outcome.
Andreas Sandre Hacker Noon profile picture
by Andreas Sandre @asandre. Comms + policy. Author of #digitaldiplomacy (2015), Twitter for Diplomats (2013). My views here.Read my book!

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