Opinion: Is crowdsourcing cultural issues through social media a good idea?

Channel Ten turns to Facebook to gauge reception on something that hasn't even happened yet

Anyone who has used Facebook - or any social networking site, for that matter - would by now be familiar with how they run. You share anything and everything with your friends, family and complete strangers and, in return, the social networking sites kindly use that information to tailor advertising targeted at your demographic. How kind of them!

As testimonies show, this doesn't always work and the results aren't always flattering, but at least Facebook ensures it does the tailoring, rather than dealing your prized, extremely secure (maybe) information to third parties.

That's why I was surprised to find a particular kind of advertisement across my Facebook profile this morning:

Do you want Cameron and Mitchell to kiss on Modern Family? Become a fan of Modern Family, the new comedy series 8pm Tues on Ten.

Now, full disclosure up front: I watch and quite enjoy the show, Modern Family. I'm also fairly certain I've established my sexual orientation on Facebook.

But, more importantly, it is clearly an advertisement from Channel Ten designed to gauge cultural reception of a show of homosexual affection on TV. In a rather tumultuous time for the Australian gay community, with crises surrounding NSW ministers and AFL footballers, the latest example indicates Channel Ten is treading softly.

Interestingly, 2,500 people had already voted in the Facebook poll by the time I saw it. The vast majority had said yes, but it would be interesting to see if the reverse had happened; if people had said no, would Channel Ten show an episode showing such affection?

The US run of the show is yet to include such affection, and a fervent Facebook campaign to see the couple kiss is already in full swing.

Television networks gauging audience reception for particularly plot lines or twists, but this use of Facebook advertising to "test the waters" on a potentially touchy topic - when Ten doesn't have a say over the course of the show itself - is an interesting example in social media.

What do you think - is this an exercise in audience engagement or the Ten legal team covering their behinds? Have your say in the comments.

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