MySpace Pitches “Town Hall”

A dozen presidential contenders will participate in what is being
billed as MySpace’s version of a presidential “town hall” meeting.

During each session individual candidates will appear
via webcast and MySpace users will be able to submit questions via
instant messaging.

“This won’t be the stale debate format with one moderator getting
canned answers to the same old questions,” said Chris DeWolfe, the CEO
of MySpace. “Our users will have the chance to get direct answers to
the questions they want to ask — unfiltered.”

There may be some truth to it, even if the questions aren’t exactly
enlightening. At the Republican forum last week, in which the online
community could submit questions via The Politico, one user asked of
Mitt Romney, “What do you dislike most about America?” Romney admitted
being initially stumped by the query.

Twelve of the contenders have signed up to participate — including
Barack Obama, who raised some hackles last week when his campaign
removed the volunteer operator of www.myspace.com/barackobama.
Democrats Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel and Republicans
Tom Tancredo, Mike Huckabee and James Gilmore either won’t participate
or have not yet officially signed on.

MySpace is making a big push to boost online political activity in
the run up to the 2008 election. It will be launching a series of
online monthly straw polls, and plans to hold a virtual presidential
primary on Jan. 1 and 2.

In March, it launched the Impact Channel, an online hub for political activity and candidates’ official MySpace pages.

In making its political push, MySpace cites figures from media
research firms that show the majority of its users are of voting age
and have a higher “engagement rate” for civic and social activity than
other Internet users.

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