You Can Live-Stream The Election Debates Now — Here's Why That's So Historic


The presidential debates are about to begin, and they will be live-streamed on Twitter and Facebook for the first time ever.

This makes a lot of sense given a lot of people will already be tweeting and posting about the debates as they happen.

Twitter partnered with Bloomberg Media to make this a reality, while Facebook partnered with ABC News.

Social media and politics have become increasingly intertwined since the 2008 election, and the fact this year's general election debates will be live-streamed on Facebook and Twitter is a historic development in that regard.

Presidential debates have definitely evolved a lot over the years.

The first general election debate this year is on September 26, 2016, which happens to be exactly 56 years after a debate that changed US presidential elections forever -- Kennedy vs. Nixon.

The debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon occurred September 26, 1960. It was the first televised presidential debate in US history.

Many argue it's what defined the modern presidential campaign, and the need to cultivate a presidential image.

Nixon, who had just gotten out of the hospital, looked pale, sweaty and nervous under the studio lights. Meanwhile, Kennedy looked tanned and composed. He resembled a movie star.

While not everyone agrees, many have argued Kennedy's appearance is what helped him win the debate and pull ahead in the election.

Nixon later expressed regret over how things went.

This debate marked a major shift in the way US presidential elections operate. As Alan Schroeder, a professor in the school of journalism at Northeastern University, put it,

It's one of those unusual points on the timeline of history where you can say things changed very dramatically — in this case, in a single night.

The next television debate wouldn't occur for another 16 years because presidential candidates were wary of how influential they could be.

We are now at another revolutionary moment in presidential election history, in which the interactive nature of social media will collide with the presidential election in an entirely new way.

It's hard to say whether this development will have as much influence as the Kennedy vs. Nixon debate, but it definitely marks a shift in how Americans consume and discuss political content.

Before the 1960 debate, television was primarily a medium for entertainment, but after, it became an integral aspect of US politics.

The same is clearly happening with social media, which was instrumental in the victories of Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 elections.

Social media and politics already have a well-established relationship, and this has definitely played out during presidential debates in the past.

In 2012, there were over 10 million tweets sent in the first debate alone.

Social media has gone from a place where we share cat videos and photos of our most recent vacations to a platform for political discourse where Americans can watch presidential debates and discuss them as they occur.

Needless to say, things have definitely changed a lot over the past half century or so.