Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Elections and Twitter: The problem with laws witten in 1930

Our politicians were slow adopters of social media but they embraced it eventually and many Canadians rely on these communities as their primary source of news. But when online and broadcast media went dark during the required blackout period set by Elections Canada, just over 2,000 tweets were posted containing election results.

The Election Canada law was written in 1930 and is the only thing "stopping" people from tweeting about results in Atlantic Canada before polls close to its west.

I love this section of an Ottawa Citizen article about what Elections Canada will no doubt need to figure out before our next election.

So posting results on a website is taboo, but Elections Canada says it is OK to share them by email, phone call or even a Facebook message. Still sounds like transmitting to me. But it is forbidden to post the results to your Facebook profile or on your Twitter feed.

My question for Elections Canada is: What if your Facebook profile settings are private, or your Twitter account is locked, and only your chosen friends can see your updates? How is that really any different from email, where you self-select recipients of your message? What if you only have 10 Facebook friends? Does that really still count as transmitting according to Elections Canada? How many Twitter followers or Facebook friends do you need to have in order for it to count? Ten? Twenty? One hundred?

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