December 20, 2010 •
Two jurisdictions grapple with the regulation of campaign finance in social media.
Just as the use of social media has exploded with the average person in everyday interaction, so it goes with the use the of social media in political campaigns. And just as political ads have prompted regulations in traditional media – in print, radio, and television – ethics oversight agencies in the states are now facing the need to regulate political ads in social media.
In essence, we have a 1970s post-Watergate system of political ads regulation facing a completely new set of challenges with today’s political activity on the internet. How do you get all parties to agree on meanings and terms for features in electronic ads when there is no industry standard? How do you identify the source of funding for a Google or Facebook ad? How would you fit a disclosure statement into a tweet when you are limited to 140 characters? Some have said regulation of political ads in social media constitutes a restriction of the exercise of freedom of speech. Others have argued that endorsements by influential bloggers should be considered as in-kind contributions.
Two states to watch are Maryland and California. The Maryland State Board of Elections and California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) have established rules for proper use of social media by political campaigns, PACs, and private individuals. At the Council on Government Ethics Laws 2010 conference in Washington, D.C., I had the privilege of meeting Jared DeMarinis, Maryland’s Director for the Maryland Board of Elections Division of Candidacy and Campaign Finance, and Roman Porter, Executive Director of the FPPC. It was a COGEL breakfast group discussion with them that prompted me to offer these resources in this post.
Here is the link for Maryland’s Summary Guide to Candidacy and Campaign Finance Laws. Chapter 12, section 6 deals with electronic media. Maryland’s answer to the issue of disclosure within the limited space of a social network appears to be requiring a hyperlink to a landing page that would host the disclosure information. Government Technology has a nice article from August 3, 2010 called, “Maryland Social Media Campaign Rules Take Effect,” which describes the new regulations.
California’s FPPC offers a report from the Subcommittee on Internet Political Activity called “Internet Political Activity and the Political Reform Act,” dated August 11, 2010. Here is a memorandum describing amendments, from October 2010. They also offer a helpful online FAQ page called “Electronic Media: Paid Political Advertisements.” These resources have a great deal of guidance regarding disclosure in social media political ads, what triggers the need for disclosure, and how disclosure is to be done in social media.
Perhaps the work of these two agencies will be the template for other jurisdictions! We will be watching…
September 10, 2010 •
Last week we had a great response to our Gov 2.0 Summit Highlighted Site of the Week. So for those of you who would like more government-meets-social media, we have some nice Web sites to highlight today.
Since the last presidential election we have all seen an explosion in the use of social media by politicians, government agencies, and elected officials. The conversations are exploding, but where can you find it all?
GovTwit claims to host “the world’s largest list of government agencies and elected officials on Twitter, tracking state/local, federal, contractors, media, academics, non-profits and government outside of the U.S.” GovTwit has political Tweetstreams, search functions, and a listing of those newest to the directory – the Prime Minister of Israel was newest as of the writing of this post.
Are you curious about who has the most Twitter followers among elected officials and news media figures? GovTwit has the List for that ranking. (President Obama tops the list, BTW, with 4,877,222 followers.) You can also search Youtube videos and twitpics, although I could not see how some of them related to politics. GovTwit also runs a blog that is worth reading.
Another resource was brought to my attention through Eric Brown’s great blog – PoliticalActivityLaw.com. The site is called the Government and Social Media Wiki. This is huge! What you get on this wiki is a database of Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, Youtube, and other social media accounts for – are you ready for this? – members of the U.S. House and Senate, U.S. House and Senate Committees, federal agencies, state Governors, and state government agencies and officials, with more on the way.
September 3, 2010 •
With mottoes such as “Government as Platform,” and “Opening the Door to Innovation,” the Gov 2.0 Summit promises to be the spot where social media and government mix!
Next week there will be an exciting conference in Washington, D.C. called the Gov 2.0 Summit. This is its second annual conference and is hosted by UBM TechWeb and Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media – famous for all of those computer manuals.
From September 7-8 at the Grand Hyatt Washington, the Gov 2.0 Summit will gather thinkers from all over to share ideas about the relationship between social media and government. According to its Web site:
“Gov 2.0 Summit brings together innovators from government and the private sector to highlight technology and ideas that can be applied to the nation’s great challenges. … Our focus this year is on opening the door to innovation, learning about the latest technology and its application, and breaking down the barriers to its adoption.”
The private sector cost to attend Gov 2.0 Summit – $1495, public sector – $995.
This is a great Web site. The list of sponsors, speakers, vendors, and attendees is fascinating – and you can even watch videos of presentations from last years’ gathering. (That alone makes the site worth visiting, even if you have no intention of attending the Summit.) Who knows, maybe I’ll go!
Let me know if you are going. And if you do go, please share your impressions of the Summit!
August 4, 2010 •
The use of political ads on Web sites and in social media continues to test the practice of political campaigning.
California’s Fair Political Practices Commission just released a report by the Subcommittee on Internet Political Activity saying political ads used on Web sites and social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter should be regulated the same way ads are on any other medium.
Here are two articles for further reading :
“Social media wrap: California watchdog recommends Internet political campaign regulations,” by Craig Howie in the Los Angeles Times on August 2, 2010.
“State panel calls for online political ad rules,” by Marisa Lagos in the San Francisco Chronicle on August 3, 2010.
June 28, 2010 •
Welcome to our new blog!
State and Federal Communications, Inc. is your compliance information source for campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws. We are pleased to introduce our new blog – LobbyComply.
State and Federal Communications is always seeking new ways to serve our clients and to reach out to the larger community. Along with what we offer on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, we believe LobbyComply will give us a great opportunity to connect with all of you.
On LobbyComply, you can expect to find news and information regarding lobbying, ethics, and compliance. Feel free to leave comments and questions, or contact us by e-mail. Enjoy the blog!
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.