President Barack Obama, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will answer questions from users as part of a Facebook Live townhall to be held at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto. Users can post questions about economic recovery and funding innovation to the Facebook Event’s wall starting today, and then watch the live stream of the town hall at at 1:45pm PST on April 20th, 2011.
The event has been organized by The White House’s Facebook Page, which is asking users to Like it before RSVP’ing. The Page includes the option to share with friends an invitation to “Join President Obama for a Facebook Townhall” and a link to submit questions.
Obama will be the first acting President of the United States to speak at a Facebook Live event, though former President George W. Bush spoke with Zuckerberg in December 2010. Facebook previously held the Vote 2010 Town Hall in conjunction with ABC during the last presidential election. By taking questions online opposed to from a physically present audience, the event will allow even those abroad to join the discussion.
Obama met with Zuckerberg and other tech leaders including Steve Jobs during the President’s trip to Silicon Valley in February. They discussed how the government could promote job creation by investing in the tech sector. Startup America, a new partnership between the White House and innovation industries, has been founded to further these goals. Facebook is participating in the initiative by planning to hold 12 “Startup Days” this year to encourage development on the platform that can lead to successful new companies.
Facebook has been looking to strengthen its relation with the US government lately, staffing a new policy office in Washington with lobbyists, and attempting to hire former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to lead its communications team. Zuckerberg has been taking an active role in this courtship, most recently sitting down with Senator Oren Hatch at Brigham Young University, and visiting Capitol Hill last year.