Tuesday, October 15, 2013

California Campaigns Must Report Paid Social Posts

California's Fair Political Practices Commission, the state's campaign watchdog agency, has ruled that political campaigns must report when they pay people to post favorable or unfavorable content on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites. The commission said it acted out of concern that the public might be deceived into thinking paid content on blogs is objective political commentary. A Los Angeles Times news story quotes Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel: "The public is entitled to know who is paying for campaigns and campaign opinions, so the weight to be given to the views can be evaluated by voters." The new rules require disclosure by campaigns that pay someone $500 or more to post favorable or unfavorable content on Internet sites not run by the campaigns. The campaign’s periodic finance report would have to identify who is paid, how much is paid, and to which website or URL the posting was made. That reporting is not required if the blog or website itself identifies the content as paid for by a campaign. The new rules, which follow the lead of Maine, are unpopular with some in the "blogosphere" but were endorsed by open-government groups, including Consumer Watchdog, as a way to bring “sunshine” to a growing field of political communications. See the L.A. Times story at http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-pc-state-adopts-new-rule-campaigns-must-say-when-they-pay-for-web-posts-20130919,0,1576392.story

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