YouTube Town Hall lets politicians debate key topics

The service includes videos pitting members of Congress against each other to debate issues affecting Americans today. The first topics include the budget and economy.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
A look at YouTube's Town Hall.
A look at YouTube's Town Hall. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Google's YouTube is bringing political discourse to its site in a whole new way.

Dubbed Town Hall, the new service on the world's top video site pits members of Congress against each other on key topics, ranging from the budget to the economy to Afghanistan. YouTube Town Hall users can ask questions of lawmakers related to the many topics available, which are then voted on by other users.

The most popular questions are then posed to members of Congress on different sides of the debate who post videos to the Town Hall site, giving users their side of the argument. After hearing both sides, users can choose to "support" one viewpoint.

"How would you vote if you focused purely on the ideas needed to make our country and our world a better place, rather than on the parties putting them forward?" YouTube asked on its blog today announcing the new feature. "That's a question that the new YouTube Town Hall seeks to answer."

YouTube is no stranger to politics. In 2007, the company allowed users to post videos asking presidential nominees questions on important topics in a CNN debate. In the 2010 election, politicians across the country took to YouTube to spread their message. Over the last few years, the White House has been updating its YouTube page with important events related to President Obama's administration.

With the help of Town Hall, YouTube is hoping to keep its member base more involved in the political process. The company said new videos will be added every month, and users can start asking questions for future posts starting now.