When Facebook and CNN partnered for inauguration coverage it was a historic moment for both CNN and Facebook. CNN for the first time had tens of millions of users stream a historic moment online rather than tune into their television. For Facebook, this was the largest implementation of Facebook Connect ever. According to and article posted by Randi Zuckerberg yesterday afternoon, the site received over 2 million status updates through the CNN.com live Facebook feed.
This was also the first time that I know of that users could view their live status feed outside of Facebook. It was useful and it also gave us a tasted of what it would be like to substitute Facebook for Twitter for real-time public conversation. Within a day, one reader shared with us how to embed the CNN.com Live feed widget directly into your browser. Within a few hours, the widget was disabled and users could no longer view the feed.
Twitter is already racing against Facebook to become the live conversation platform. The CNN.com integration with Facebook was my first experience with truly interactive television. Hundreds of friends tuned in via Facebook and I was tracking in real-time what emotions my friends were experiencing as I shared the moment with them. While the same emotions probably wouldn’t be experienced while watching the most recent episode of Lost, the experience would be more enriching than watching the show in solitary from my living room.
Facebook gave us a taste of the power that they have when combined with other mass media, but it was only that: a taste. I’ve stated before that Facebook could kill Twitter overnight. It may be far fetched but my argument still remains, Facebook is far more mainstream than Twitter and by making our status updates publicly available, Facebook could stunt Twitter’s growth.
Rather than clinging to my hopes for Facebook to strike out against Twitter, I’ll simply emphasize that Facebook has hit on something incredibly large. I can only expect a similar implementation on Hulu, which will help the site become the most interactive live viewing media platform on the web. I only hope that Facebook opens up status updates for everybody instead of offering this solution on a case by case basis, as they did with CNN.