ABC News town hall marks Facebook milestones

LIVE COVERAGE: ABC News, Facebook and the Walter Cronktite School of Journalism and Mass Communication co-hosted an election town hall Tuesday night. Co-hosted by ABC’s David Muir, the town hall meeting was streamed live onto Facebook and ABC News. (Photo by Scott Stuk)

In a first-time collaboration with Facebook, ABC News held a seven-hour Election Day presentation Tuesday night at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The town hall-style event was anchored by David Muir and broadcast live on Facebook as well as the ABC News website. The feed was also televised periodically throughout the night.

Facebook launched some new technology at the town hall, including a “Facebook Buzz Wall.” This wall is a list of the top four candidates mentioned on Facebook users’ walls of the U.S. Senate and House races, in addition to state governor races.

As of 9:51 p.m. Facebook correctly predicted all but four of the Senate races based just on mentions.

“Just because you’re high on the buzz list doesn’t mean people are saying nice things about you,” said Randi Zuckerberg, director of communications for Facebook, who was at the town hall meeting.

Other mentions that were being tracked through Facebook included the words “marijuana,” “Nancy Pelosi” and “John Boehner.”

Also presented at the town hall were the results of polls Facebook had conducted in the days and weeks leading up to election night. Polls included how confident people were about finding jobs, feelings on the tea party, whether the state or federal government should deal with immigration and whether the stimulus has helped or hurt the economy.

Facebook also tracked how many people voted through a poll placed at the top of all users’ home pages. As of 10 p.m., more than 12 million people said they’d voted — a number that doubled the amount of clicks Facebook received two years ago.

The town hall was interactive, not only with the people in attendance, but also with Facebook users. They could not only watch the meeting online, they could also comment on Facebook about the town hall. Some of the Facebook messages were read during the event.

In addition to Muir and Zuckerberg, Natalie Podgorski from Cronkite News Service, Bill Adair from Politifact, state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D–Phoenix, and comedian D.L. Hughley were at the town hall in Cronkite. Mike Allen from Politico and ABC News reporter Sharyn Alfonsi joined the town hall via Skype.

Reach the reporter at connor.radnovich@asu.edu

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