Obama to host ‘town hall’ meeting from Facebook HQ


20 Apr 2011

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Its founder has been named TIME magazine’s person of the year, more than 600m people use it and now it’s preparing for a visit from the head of one of the most powerful countries in the world – Facebook seems to have solidified its position as the world’s most influential company.

Later today, President Barack Obama is due to drop into Facebook’s Silicon Valley’s headquarters to host a “town hall” meeting on the economy.

Although his predecessor George W. Bush has visited the offices already, Obama is the first sitting head of state to take a tour of the social media powerhouse. He is also the first to use it as a venue for a political debate.

On a video message posted on The White House website, Obama invites American voters to join in on the event, which will be streamed live across the world.

He asks citizens to take time out from “friending and defriending” each other to let other people know about the event. He said he will answer questions from voters across the country.  

Obama embraced social media in a huge way during his 2008 presidential election campaign, a fact many believe accounted for the larger-than-usual voter turnout. The President will turn once more to the networking website to boost his upcoming 2012 campaign.

"It is an attempt to reach people who may not get their news through traditional news sources like newspapers or the network news," White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said of the decision to use the social network.

"We want to go to where people congregate online, and Facebook is one of the premier places to do that."

The tour of the Facebook offices and appearances on its internet television channel, Facebook Live, has become a popular pastime for celebrities and politicians. Obama joins a group that includes Katy Perry, Mike Tyson, Conan O’Brien, Demi Moore and Tony Blair.

Today’s event, with a theme of “shared responsibility and shared prosperity”, will be hosted by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

CFO Sheryl Sandberg will also get the opportunity to question the president on Facebook Live.

The event is also a showcase for the company’s live television venture, which was established by accident last year.  

During the Icelandic volcano ash cloud debacle, about 500 European developers who had been planning to attend the company’s F8 conference were stranded. Engineers quickly put together a video channel to let the absent developers see what was going on. The fact that 125,000 people logged on shocked and inspired Facebook to move forward with a similar initiative.

The event begins at 9.45pm Irish time.

Article courtesy of Businessandleadership.com