NEW YORK: Online social networking site Facebook and ABC News have announced a partnership to bring US politics to millions of 'friends' keen to discuss the finer points of next year's presidential primaries and election.

The media duo will also sponsor the Democratic and Republican presidential debates in New Hampshire, just before the state's primary election - a key element in deciding which candidates will eventually slug it out for the world's top job.

The partnership will allow Facebook's 56 million active members to electronically follow the broadcaster's reporters, view reports and video and take part in polls and debates.

Comments ABC News president David Westin: "There are debates going on at all times within Facebook. This allows us to participate in those debates, both by providing information and by learning from the users to inform our own reporting."

Dan Rose, Facebook's vp for business development concurs: "We want to extend the dialogue both before and after the debate."

It is likely that Facebook also hopes the project will divert attention from the furore surrounding its Beacon advertising program that shows users what their 'friends' have been buying from partner sites.

Data sourced from International Herald-Tribune; additional content by WARC staff