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Oct 11, 2011 6:24 AM by Kate Richards

Facebook "friending" politics

NEW YORK (AP) - Social media companies have "friended" the 2012 presidential contest at a level almost unimaginable just four years ago.

Social media giants like Facebook and Google are hosting debates and sponsoring presidential town halls. They remain indispensable tools for candidates looking to connect with voters.

The companies get great public exposure for their attachment to the presidential campaign. It also helps their business interests by nurturing relationships with political leaders.

Facebook recently launched a political action committee and has begun hiring lobbyists in Washington. It's taken a prominent role in the presidential campaign, with plans to co-host a

Republican debate in New Hampshire. President Barack Obama participated in a Facebook town hall last spring.

Google and Twitter have also stepped up their presence in Washington along with their campaign visibility.

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