Elections Canada is taking steps to ensure that social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, aren’t a factor in revealing election results on May 2nd as polls close across the country. They’ve forbidden the posting of electoral results across time zones.
According to The Ottawa Citizen, the body responsible for handling federal elections has created an interpretation of what it refers to as “premature transmission” of any election results.
“Results disseminated to an individual’s friends through Facebook’s e-mail service would not be considered public transmission. However, results posted to a Facebook user’s wall may be considered public transmission, including cases where the user’s Facebook profile is public.”
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Elections Canada spokesman John Enright said that the same approach would apply to Twitter.
During the last federal election in 2008, Twitter users were posting results in Atlantic Canada well before polls closed in British Columbia and this the amount of Canadians using Twitter has surely increased since then. Twitter has been a platform for much political discussion during this year’s campaign, so how this plays out is going to be interesting how Elections Canada is going to monitor and enforce its policy. A review of Elections Canada’s website shows no mention of what penalties or punishment one would face if they were to ignore the warning, but Boing Boing reports that “penalties of up to a $25,000 fine or up to five years in prison” would be enforced.