There is simply no logical or ethical reason to oppose a proposal, pending before the Fair Political Practices Commission, that would require candidates and campaigns to identify the people and amounts of money they pay to post propaganda online
As FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel noted, the idea is to ensure that the public is aware when online content “is masquerading as someone’s opinion as opposed to paid opinion.”
Frankly, we don’t understand how anyone can make a case against this. The suggestion by some that the rule is unnecessary, unenforceable and overly broad makes no sense.
It should be a simple matter for a candidate or campaign to list, in their spending reports, the people they’re paying to post messages on their behalf or against an opponent. Moreover, since he’s being paid, it seems a simple matter for the troll to report to the campaign where he posted his pearls of wisdom.
Why Maviglio and Flash are in the sack together The FPPC’s regulations should always seek to provide maximum exposure of the people, forces and resources at work in political communications. Anonymity is no virtue in the public square.
The political process evolved from handbills and speeches to door-knockers, precinct walkers, campaign rallies and television ads. It has evolved once again to include the Internet, for campaign ads, blast-emails, creative use of Facebook and Twitter, website commenting and other forms of online messaging. To keep up with the change in technological forms, FPPC regulations must evolve as well.
Calbuzz has spoken on this issue on more than one occasion, arguing that as voters increasingly get their political information from online sources, they need to know if what they’re reading is bought and paid for.
Maviglio and our pal Jon Fleischman – who, by the way, also run, advise and consult on campaigns – have said they’re worried that regulating online communications will have a chilling effect on free speech, requiring campaigns, for example, to tell people who might be paid for a weekend of precinct walking that they can’t use social media.
That’s hogwash. People who work in and for campaigns are either paid workers or volunteers. If they’re paid personnel, their payments and the services paid for should be disclosed – whether they’re part-time office workers or full-time website operators who give discounts on ad rates in exchange for boosting a candidate or cause.
We’d go even farther: Once the FPPC’s online interface has been updated and redesigned — a project Ravel has promised — campaigns ought to be required to disclose their payments to online mouth organs in real time, within 24 hours, not in quarterly or monthly reports to the Secretary of State. That’s the only way to keep on top of the immediacy of Internet communications.
Freedom for all, from sock puppets We cede commitment to freedom of speech to no one. But as insiders in the online business, we also see the massive potential for unscrupulous operators to use the Internet to disseminate propaganda posing as spontaneous citizen opinion.
There is no more important issue facing the FPPC than the challenge of staying abreast of the changing forms of political communications to ensure that the public has complete information about the people running for office and the forces behind them.
Bottom line: It’s time for the FPPC to join the 21st Century.