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The season of fall is almost upon us, and with that comes colder weather, pumpkins, and this year, the presidential election.  Democratic Candidates Barack Obama and Joe Biden have already started campaigning as usual, along with the Republican Candidates Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. However, this election could be slightly different, due in part to the large presence of social media. And just as the London 2012 Olympics were touted to be the “first social media Olympics” will this next election be the “first social media presidential election?”

Candidates have already started engaging Facebook and Twitter as platforms for their campaigns, and as a way to interact with their voters. And just recently, CNN decided to join in the social media election fun by launching the “Facebook-CNN Election Insights” tool on their website. In a press release, Facebook’s vice president of corporate communications and public policy said, “Facebook is naturally a place where friends engage in political discourse, and we’re pleased to announce that the Facebook-CNN Election Insights tool will offer an interactive, real-time glimpse into how and where this conversation is taking place across the country.”  This application, which runs in real time, has cool interactive graphs and maps that shows which candidate Americans are talking about the most.  Users can also break this information down further by looking at gender, age, state, and time period.

For those election news junkies, this tool is a good start to see who is talking about which candidate more, however, it lacks some substance.  As of right now, there is no way to tell if people are talking about the candidates in a positive or negative light. So, even though one state might be talking about the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, we don’t know if they are talking about Paul Ryan in a positive or negative light. Even with this limitation, this is a great illustration of the power of social media and how it can be used as a tool in the upcoming election.