Election Laws Coming for Facebook, Twitter

The state I happen to live in is at the forefront of an interesting wave in public policy, one which is inevitable. The Maryland Board of Elections is considering taking actions to regulate the social media usage of candidates and campaigns.

Day 36/366.....I Voted by Flickr user Denise Cross
'Day 36/366.....I Voted' by Flickr user Denise Cross

A quick scan shows that many candidates and campaigns have begun to tap into the low-cost power of the social Web — many creating Facebook Pages and using them as campagn hubs. But this is an area that is unregulated and unwatched. (Here is an interesting article from the Manila Times going in-depth into the issue in their local context.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, according to DC-area news powerhouse WTOP:

In campaign races across the country, people are setting up fake Facebook and Twitter accounts in order to spread false information about rival candidates. . . . The board is working on rules that would allow the board to put an official seal of authenticity on social network sites that are used by campaigns.

“We would require the authority line on that Facebook page, somewhere on it in visible fashion,” says Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland Board of Elections.

Twitter accounts would be subject to the rules, too, and spreading lies would be subject to the same rules as currently apply to spreading fake literature.

Published by

Brad Rourke

Executive editor of issue guides and program officer at the Kettering Foundation.

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