Tonight’s televised debate between the leading candidates to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer will provide a solid indication of the potential relevance of social media in the coming election. Whilst the arguments are played out in the front channel (the TV), the arguments and analysis will be broadcast simultaneously in what has become known as the back channel. Specifically social media and in particular, twitter. The programme makers are promoting this and have created a hashtag #askthechancellors, so that two-screen viewers can follow the debate – front and back. Live online reaction will also be played back to the TV audience.
The on-line debate will alow anyone to voice an opinion with the potential for that opinion to be propelled either by other like-minded voices on-line or through broadcast TV. There will also be the coordinated voices of campaigners like the InVinceCable, the social media pressure group who launched their campaign to back Vince Cable earlier today.
Before the credits roll we will have a clear sense through the on-line commentary of which of the pretenders to Number 11 Downing Street has caught the mood of the nation. This is important partly because it paves the way for what will happen in the party leader debates but also because it is our economy that is at stake.