Twitter, Presidential Debates, and how you stream.

Yet again, I find myself writing about the intersection of politics and social media, but the two are unavoidable!  No matter who you follow on Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn, we’re somewhat inundated with opinions from thought leaders, friends, and sometimes, total strangers.  I mentioned before that in a previous life, I worked in Politics – on the press side to boot!  And apropos of last week’s class, this subject seemed like it was worthy of rehashing.

With that said, Nanette Byrnes wrote a pretty compelling piece in MIT’s technology review last week, directly confronting the pros and cons with using Twitter as a platform for a debate preview.   She noted that using the platform as a place to watch the event made it more “divisive” and “confusing.”    The takeaway was, essentially, that it was information overload, and her attention was taken away from the discourse and directed to her feed.


This sentiment seemed to be a common theme amongst many viewers.  In a piece posted on CNET by Alfred Ng, Omar Akhtar of Altimeter stated that, “Facebook is more akin to being [in] a living room where you have your friends and you have your relatives, it’s personal…. Twitter is like the town square. Everyone is loudly proclaiming their opinions, it’s out to the public.”

My team of deplorables will be managing my Twitter account for this evenings debate. Tune in!

But despite the inevitable distractions which so many platforms provide, you can’t disagree with the fact that opening the option to view the debate on such a widely used tool promotes (best case scenario) a better informed public.  Additionally, it’s good for Twitter’s current position as they’re looking to reengage their users and differentiate their offerings.   To that end, it’s very clear that Twitter is doing it’s best to stay relevant.  Ng writes, “While their approaches may differ, both social networks are using live video to hook users and gain relevancy during marquee moments. Twitter has been packing on shows for its growing network of live streams, including games from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and theNational Football League.”

Interestingly, according to Melissa Cruze at, Clinton gained over 51k followers to Trump’s 28.5k.  This metric is evidently also concurrent with polling, done by Public Policy Polling, whereby Clinton won the debate 51-40.

As for me, I think there is a clear line between entertainment and serious business.  And with the current state of this election, I think when we have the chance to see these two (very unpopular) candidates together, we should minimize the amount of background noise to focus on the bigger picture.




  1. kdphilippi18 · ·

    Interesting post! While I didn’t watch the debate on Twitter – I can see why it seemed to overwhelm people with the live stream of opinions. Although this feature does seem to be information overload, I feel like it could be a good thing as well. Per the Pariser video we watched last week – The Filter Bubble – we discussed how social platforms tend to only show us information they “think” we want to see, leaving us with content that is only similar to our opinions. Maybe this live stream will help people be more aware of conflicting viewpoints and information (even though its annoying and distracting).

  2. adawsisys · ·

    Nice Post. The election is a serious matter with lasting implications. Twitter seems to be an entertainment tool to look at while watching the debate, and it takes away from some of what the candidates at the debate are actually saying. If you scroll through Twitter during the debate you will see a countless number of different opinions about the candidates and the debate, and you may choose to agree with whichever Tweet sounds the best or is most entertaining. This takes away each voter’s ability to think independently about the candidates and their viewpoints, and it encourages viewers to follow the crowd that they see themselves fitting into.

  3. I love watching the debates with Twitter. It’s great to see the candidates and fact checking in real time. I just wish there was a better way to filter out alot of the silly stuff. Something between top tweets and live.

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