California’s political watchdog has approved a rule forcing political campaigns to disclose when they pay bloggers to post comments on such social media sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, as well as others.
The Fair Political Practice Commission’s decision, which has followed months of debate, requires the campaigns to publicly report payments of $500 or more to bloggers. The intent of the rule is to tell the public who is financing commentary, thus enabling voters to make informed decisions.
But some were skeptical about the state’s ability to enforce the new rule.
“Whenever you get more disclosure in campaigns, that’s a good thing,” said Phillip Ung of Common Cause, which advocates for transparency in politics.
“But it’s the Internet, and you’re trying to regulate how people act over the Internet. Social media, that’s a technology that changes almost monthly,” he added. “There are theories that within a year, this regulation will be outdated.”
A leading opponent of the regulation was Steve Maviglio, a campaign consultant, blogger and adviser to Assembly Speaker John Pérez, who said the regulation was deeply flawed and could limit free speech by campaign partisans posting on their own time.
“Although well intentioned, this new poorly-written FPPC regulation will create an avalanche of paperwork and chill the rise of social media in campaigns because it is unworkable and unenforceable,” Maviglio said.
“This started out by wanting bloggers to disclose and has become a regulation that will require every Tweet and Facebook post by a campaign staffer to be reported. It’s unfortunate the Commission was more interested in passing this regulation fast, rather than working to get it right.”