MANCHESTER, N.H.--It sounded like a good idea at first: let Internet users be part of, virtually speaking, the Democratic and Republican presidential debates on Saturday evening by posting comments on a special Facebook message board.
But it turned out to be one of those ideas that may be better in theory than in practice. During the East coast broadcast of the debates, Facebook users posted around 35,000 "Soundboard" messages, meaning that at perhaps 50 characters each, that's some 1.75 million characters to read during an approximately three-hour period. All of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, by contrast, is only 700,000 characters.
To read all those messages, at 20 per page, you'd have to refresh your browser's screen 1,750 times. That's not even counting comments posted by west coast Facebook users (Facebook, which co-sponsored the debate here with ABC News, said the west coast figures were not yet available).
No doubt, the political twitterers must've felt empowered to know their Soundboard comments were being beamed out to an audience of potentially millions of Facebook users, and, if plucked by ABC's designated Facebook-monitoring reporter on TV, millions of offline viewers as well.
Still, it's a little unclear whether the comments will prove all that useful for campaigns looking to boost their candidates' standing.
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