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California may be the first state to regulate campaign social networking

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August 20, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

SACRAMENTO, California: The California Fair Political Practices Commission may require campaigns to abide by disclaimer requirements for materials they disseminate through social networking websites.[1]

Commissioners on the FPPC want to extend the current disclaimer rules to communications that involve text messages, Twitter messages, and web videos. The new requirements would apply to campaigns in support or opposition of a ballot measure or a statewide candidate in California.[1]

With Twitter messages limited to 145 characters, free speech advocates are questioning if the new requirements towards tweets would be constitutional. Allison Hayward of the Center for Competitive Politics said: “it’s the fact that you have a limited space to say something and the government is telling you that you have to use some of that for what they think should be saying.”[1]

Constitutional law experts think that the new requirements would withstand legal challenges. Eugene Volkoh, a law professor at UCLA said: "the Supreme Court has said that it is ok to impose speech requirements." Volkoh also said: "it makes sense that the same rules would pretty much apply the same way to online communications including web pages, emails and Twitter."[1]

The Board of Commissioners on the FPPC will meet in October of 2010 to vote on the proposed rules.[1] If approved, California would be the first state in the nation to impose disclaimer requirements on campaign related social networking.[1]

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