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Yesterday (Monday), The Democratic candidates took questions from YouTube users in a live collaboration between Google's YouTube and CNN. There is rumour that for a fraction of a second, a goatcx picture appeared within one of the videos (this has since been proven as fake). The main thing to note is that there is an illusion that this is the new form democracy will take, using Internet video and social sites like YouTube as a means to discuss and shape politics. But let's take a real look at what really happened behind the scenes between YouTube, CNN and the Democratic candidates.

There is an illusion that the questions were uncensored, but in reality I can tell you from experience within this field that the questions were most certainly screened, filtered and hand selected in advance. YouTube users were able to submit their questions in advance, and were allegedly allowed to vote on which were most applicable and relevant. However, the truth lies in a murky middle - the most popular questions were compiled and most likely distributed to each candidates Public Relations team, who in turn chose which questions they think they could spin best and selected the questions they would like to answer. These revised questions were given back and YouTube in partnership with CNN (remember) selected only those questions that the candidates felt comfortable with - regardless of whether they didn't make the user vote for most popular/relevant questions.

So you're left with a selection of questions submitted by YouTube users (which I guess is the closest we can get to anything democratic), which are in turn screened, filtered and reviewed by a CNN and YouTube panel, which again is then sent off to the candidates who screen the questions and choose the ones most capable of supporting their candidate, and those questions are in turn brought to the top of the user 'popular questions list' - which get read live on TV.

So it brings me back to the main point, is youtube really a platform for political debate and discussion? Well I'd say Yes and No, take a look at any video - there is almost always an on-going comment debate/flame war about America, Iraq War, Terrorism, Fear Mongering, Democratic/Republican bashing, or some sort of other political nonsense. So is YouTube a platform capable of political discussion - Yes - because many people seem to use it in this manner, and No - because it is virtually impossible for a free flow discussion due to the very nature of the commenting system, and the ignorance and idiocy of the users (something that all democracies are susceptible and plagued with).

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