1/26/11 – How the State of the Union Played on Facebook

What were people thinking last night during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address?

According to their chatter on Facebook, they were focused on spending, more than on things like jobs and health care. And talk of education trumped technology and innovation among Facebook users.

The social-networking company analyzed posts made by its hundreds of millions of users during the speech and found that people posted more about education and spending than other topics, Facebook said. During the relevant portions of the president’s speech, education peaked at about 1,100 mentions per minute, while spending peaked at 900, the company told Digits. Facebook gave an overview of some of the results in a post Wednesday afternoon.

The ability to take a look at the national mood at times like this is one of the most intriguing parts of the world of “big data” that companies like Facebook and Google have at their fingertips.

In fact, it’s becoming so important that the president mentioned both Facebook and Google by name during the speech, drawing parallels between the tech companies, Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers.

“We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living,” he said early in the speech.

Facebook and Google also are both touting how their technology is changing the political process and allowing people to respond directly to government officials. President Obama received more than 28,000 responses to his address on the social-networking site, Facebook said, while Republican House Speaker John Boehner saw more than 3,500 and Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, got 6,000.

And Google is inviting people to submit questions for a post-State of the Union interview that will take place live Thursday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. So far there have been almost 120,000 questions submitted and more than a million votes on those questions.

– The Wall Street Journal

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