Facebook to Broadcast Users’ Political Opinions in Times Square

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2012 Matters

Facebook users’ opinions about the 2012 elections may soon go from private to very, very public thanks to a new app that will showcase their views on a giant billboard in Times Square.

The app, called 2012 Matters: What Matters Most, will avoid asking users to endorse or reveal affiliations with any particular party or candidate, focusing instead on issues from a list compiled by Reuters.

(MORE: Facebook Gets into Politics, Forms Its Own PAC)

Once installed, the app — available for both the desktop and mobile versions of Facebook — will ask users to rank the importance of particular issues relevant to this year’s presidential election.

Users will be able to choose three of the following nine to rank: debt, the economy, energy, the environment, health (and healthcare), immigration, national security, social issues and Social Security, before being given the choice to share their rankings — along with their names and profile photos — on Reuters’ digital billboard in Times Square.

Overall results of the poll will also be posted publicly in Times Square, via the Nasdaq digital billboard. Participating users’ rankings will also appear on their Facebook Walls, where friends will be invited to sign up for the app and add their own voices to the debate.

The 2012 Matters app was created during an internal 24-hour “hackathon” earlier this month that included Facebook engineers and representatives from ad agency R/GA, centering on how best to integrate Facebook into this year’s political fracas — the idea of using digital billboards to broadcast information was apparently already in place.

John Mayo-Smith, EVP and CTO at R/GA calls the result “the intersection of social media and branded event advertising,” not to mention a chance for millions of Americans to make their voices heard in an all-new way.

MORE: Decision 2012 Goes Viral: YouTube Launches Politics Channel

Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.