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Social Media Guide To The Presidential Debates

How many screens will you be watching the presidential debates on? If you're just watching your television, you will be missing out on the rich analysis--and likely comic relief--that you can get via a second screen and social media.

The term "second screen" refers to the way in which many of us consume televised events these days. Whether we're watching the Olympics or the mid-season finale of "Breaking Bad," many of us have one eye on the TV and one on social media feeds on our laptops, smartphones, or tablet PCs.

And so it likely will go during the presidential debates between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. The debates are scheduled to take place Oct. 3, at the University of Colorado; Oct. 11, at Centre College in Danville, Ky.; and Oct. 16, at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, N.Y. The first debate will focus on domestic policy and the last two will also cover foreign topics.

If the last presidential election was the first to incorporate social media in any real way, the 2012 election season has had social media at its core. From the official announcements of candidacy to record-breaking tweets commenting on pretty much every step the candidates have taken, social media has been inextricably intertwined into the process of electing our next president.

Some would say that social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have sullied that process, quickly propagating myths and misinformation while creating a new art form of taking words out of context. That might be true, but social media also has created a place where candidates' puffery and the associated punditry can be put into context, and where peers can easily discuss and explain the issues as they relate to specific people, places and things.

So, with one eye on the candidates and the other on the screen (or screens) of your choice, here is a guide to some of the platforms on which you can share in the debate:

-- Twitter. The official Twitter hashtag for the debates is #debates. The hashtag for the Oct. 3 debate is #denverdebate. You can also check out the Twitter feeds for Obama and Romney.

-- Facebook. The candidates' official pages are Romney and Obama.

-- The debate will be streamed live from YouTube's official election site, which will host complementary content, as well.

-- Tumblr and The Guardian will be working together to live-blog the debate with animated GIFs.

-- All major news outlets will cover the debate and most will live blog during the event. Check out your local newspaper's social feeds for the home-based take on what the candidates are saying.

-- Follow your own personal feeds to see what your friends and frenemies are saying about the candidates.

These are just a few of many outlets where you can enrich your debate experience by connecting on social, with or without turning the TV on. Where--and on what--will you watch the debates?

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.