Obama's Facebook Town Hall: Complicated Already

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Today, President Obama is holding a "town hall" meeting on the economy live from Facebook headquarters. For the major U.S. papers, it's a time to re-examine Obama's relationship with the social networking giant, and everybody's got a different take.

The New York Times depicts the town hall as a bid to "galvanize supporters" for his 2012 re-election. The paper notes that Obama sent invites to his 19.3 million Facebook friends on Monday and about 22,000 have signed up thus far. That earned the article a Drudge link with the value-added spin: "Less than 1% of 'friends' sign up for Obama Facebook event." Over at Politico, Obama's new partnership with Facebook is described as a liability. "Political consultants and brand managers say politicians and companies put themselves at risk when they become linked in the public eye. Think Dick Cheney and Halliburton. George W. Bush and Enron. Hillary Clinton and Wal-Mart. And, increasingly, Obama and Google." Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal looks at how the town hall is just the latest example of Facebook making friends in Washington. "Until lately, Facebook has spent very little money in Washington, even by Silicon Valley's frugal standards," writes the Journal. The company only spent $351,000 on lobbying last year but it's gearing up now with a new Washington office as it faces questions about privacy and censorship abroad. In an interesting tidbit, the Journal gets a surprisingly candid quote from a Facebook lobbyist who says "maybe we will block content in some countries, but not others. We are occasionally held in uncomfortable positions because now we're allowing too much, maybe, free speech in countries that haven't experienced it before."

The event will be live-streamed here at 4:45 p.m. Check back with us then for an update on the talk.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.