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ABC News and Facebook unite to cover US elections

NEW YORK - Facebook is linking up with ABC News in a partnership that will allow users to tap into the network's political coverage.

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The partnership will offer those using Facebook the chance to follow ABC reporters and view reports as well as taking part in debates and polls. Users will be able to share ABC content with their friends and post it on their own pages.

Facebook has created a new "US Politics" category as the US counts down to the November 2008 Presidential election. Users of the site will be able to interact with the Facebook pages of ABC News reporters, such as Rick Klein and Sunlen Miller. They will be able to post messages to their pages, send private messages and follow their activities with status updates.

As part of the deal, on January 5 three days before the primaries, ABC News and Facebook will jointly sponsor Democratic and Republican presidential debates in New Hampshire.

It is the first time that the social media group has signed with a news group, although other news organisations like The New York Times and The Washington Post have created Facebook applications and pages.

David Westin, president of ABC News, said: "There are debates going on at all times within Facebook. This allows us to participate in those debates, both by providing information and by learning from the users."

Miller, who is following Democratic challenger Barack Obama, has signed up around 250 users, according to The New York Times, making her the most popular to date.

Obama has strong support among Facebook users with 164,000 backing him on the site, which is double the amount of any other presidential candidate.

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