Monday, November 21, 2011

Final week

We’re now in the final week of New Zealand’s 2011 election campaign, with the big day on Saturday. We have a family event to go that day, but we’ll have plenty of time to vote before we go, and we’ll be back in plenty of time to watch the results come in. Both are very important to me, actually.

Over the course of this week, I’m going to go into some detail about how I’m voting and why, but all of that will be done by Friday to ensure that I don’t run afoul of NZ election law. The Electoral Commission has issued a series of rules—well, reminders about rules—for handling the election in the online world. One part was especially relevant to bloggers:
"News stories posted on websites before election day can remain, as long as the website is not advertised on election day. Comment functions should be disabled on all websites, including social media sites, until after 7pm on election day to avoid readers posting statements that could influence voters."
I asked Lew of KiwiPolitico what he was going to do, and he suggested enabling comment moderation, and I thought that was brilliant: Folks can still make comments, but the comments won’t show up until we approve them, after 7pm Saturday. Turning off the comment function completely would mean people would have to come back to comment, and how many people will do that? So, by midnight on Friday, I’ll enable comment moderation on this blog and turn it off again after the polls close on election day (though in my case it’s mostly symbolic, since I’m unlikely to get many comments on election day).

But the bit about social media is just daft. I can avoid posting anything to Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, but I have NO control what others do. There’s no way to disable comments/re-posts on those services short of deleting my accounts. Since we’ll be away, I won’t have a chance to post anything that day, anyway, but I’m also not going to worry if someone comments something partisan. It’s possible the Commission means things like news organisations’ forums, but they didn’t say that, so I have to assume they simply don’t understand how social media works.

I’m going to be extra cautious and probably won’t post anything about the campaign on Friday, and I won’t post anything at all on Saturday until after the voting ends (I can’t do anything to draw eyes to my blog on election day, and a new post of any kind, no matter how unrelated it was, might possibly do that). Again. I won’t really have a chance to post anything, so this isn’t a burden.

But I hope that this is all better thought-out for 2014.

Update 22/11: Russell Brown over at Public Address is taking a different approach.


Roger Owen Green said...

Most of the time, I think NZ political rules are better than US rules. But these are daft.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Yeah, the social media stuff is weird, but I get the ban on comments, even though I think that's silly, too. I just wish they'd adopt policies that take note of what century we're in.