Tonight’s third and final presidential debate is sure to garner maximum interest as it will focus on foreign policy and our place in the world. Political observers predict that the recent assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the murder of four Americans and the subsequent cover-up by the Obama administration almost guarantee a potentially contentious “debate.”

Surfin’ Safari will be monitoring Twitter and Facebook for clues of public sentiment and reaction to the debaters answers.

Each week the millions of tweets about the U.S. presidential candidates provide a real-time barometer of voter sentiment through the Twitter Political Index, “a daily measurement that evaluates the sentiments of Twitter users’ feelings about the candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, relative to the more than 400 million tweets sent about all other topics each day,” according to Twitter.

Last week’s presidential debate at Hofstra University attracted viewers to Twitter from across the country to participate in the debate exchanges and offer their own commentary.

“Throughout the 90-minute #debate, 7.2 million tweets were sent,” wrote Adam Sharp (@AdamS), Twitter’s head of Government, News and Social Innovation.

The highest amounts of twittering (TPM or “tweets per minute”) took place at the following moments in the debate:

  • Audience question to Romney on immigration (109,560 TPM)
  • Obama to Romney: “You’re the last person to get tough on China” (108,619 TPM)
  • Romney’s response to tax rates question (107,386 TPM)

Taking a measure of the first 28 percent of tweets sent about the debate, the economy was the most-discussed topic. Taxes constituted 17 percent of tweets; 16 percent on foreign policy, 13 percent on energy and the environment and 8 percent on immigration.

Read more Twitter analysis of last week’s town hall debate.

As Howard Kurtz, host of CNN’s weekly media program Reliable Sources, wrote, “Hey, tweets are like AP dispatches these days.”

Poof! Google’s gone?

The headline on the Drudge Report read, “Google Could ‘Disappear.'”


Cadie Thompson at explained that Google is facing the same mobile problem as Facebook. The reason? “Consumers are searching more and more on mobile devices, yet advertisers aren’t as willing to buy advertisements formatted for mobile devices, because these ads are not as prominently displayed.”

Google reported in its quarterly earnings last week that its cost per click was down 15 percent in the third quarter. But could that make Google “disappear”? Perhaps if the trend continues.

Meanwhile, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco reports, “Google is opening a virtual window into the secretive data centers where an intricate maze of computers process Internet search requests, show YouTube video clips and distribute email for millions of people.”

You can see it all through a new website that features pics from inside some of eight data centers Google already has up here in the United States, Belgium and Finland. Google is reported to be building data centers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Chile.

A virtual tour of a North Carolina data center will be available through Google’s “Street View” service.

Hacking: deadly consequences

On the medical front, some experts warn that computerized medical equipment is being targeted through systems connected to the Internet.

Liz Klimas at The Blaze writes, “Tech Crunch reported at a separate conference a demonstration that hacked into a pacemaker and subjected the patient to electric shock. Not only that, but a tech expert said it is possible to spread a virus through the system distributing the shocks to other nearby pacemaker users, which would result essentially in a “mass murder.”

This growing concern was the topic of discussion by a panel on the National Institute of Standards and Technology Information Security & Privacy Advisory Board.

In an article headlined “Computer Viruses Are ‘Rampant’ on Medical Devices in Hospitals,” the following observation was made by a leading expert on medical device security: “The malware problem at hospitals is clearly rising nationwide,” said Kevin Fu, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who took part in the panel discussion. A concern that should concern all of us.

Update on Cybersecurity: Headlines from Congressional Quarterly & Roll Call

We’ve been tracking this one for weeks. Now Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he’ll take one more shot at bringing cybersecurity legislation to the floor when the Senate returns for the lame-duck session post-election.

“Some of my colleagues have suggested that the president should delay further action to protect America from this threat until Congress can pass legislation. Secretary Panetta has made clear that inaction is not an option,” Reid claims. “I will bring cybersecurity legislation back to the Senate floor when Congress returns in November. My colleagues who profess to understand the urgency of the threat will have one more chance to back their words with action and work with us to pass this bill.”

An anxiously anticipated House report on two Chinese companies ended up asking more than it answered.

Also last week, a House panel determined that more scrutiny and the Cybersecurity Law is needed to oversee Chinese telecom firms. But former Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge said he’s skeptical about any Cybersecurity Executive Order.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia highlighted those concerns in an opinion piece published last month by the Wall Street Journal.

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