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The effects of social media sites on elections

Posted December. 30, 2011 02:06,   


The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that using online and mobile media such as Twitter for election campaigns does not violate election law, which will likely boost the use of social networking sites for campaigns next year before the April general elections and December presidential election.

Under Article 93, Clause 1 of the Election Law, supporters and opponents of a political party or candidate cannot distribute promotional publications including advertisements, greeting cards, photos and documents, and other similar materials for 180 days prior to voting. The National Election Committee had banned social networking site from allowing posts related to elections, and the court was to decide whether to include social networking sites as "other similar materials" banned. In its latest ruling, the court has ruled unconstitutional the ban on using mobile media including Twitter for campaigning, saying freedom of expressing political standing and promoting election campaigns should be guaranteed. Since election law is intended to prevent an imbalance in financial capability among candidates, the court has ruled that online campaigns are legal due to small accompanying costs.

The big principles of election law are to restrain the use of campaign money and free the voices of political standings. This is a positive ruling to allow campaigning through use mobile media, which incurs little cost in that social networking sites offer the most optimal environment. Excess money spent on election campaigns can be prevented by the wise use of mobile media, while corruption involving the gathering of campaign money can also be prevented.

In the Oct. 26 by-election for Seoul mayor, celebrities, professors and writers supported candidate Park Won-Soon through Twitter, contributing to his win. The court`s ruling allowing election campaigns through social networking sites will likely bring about competition among politicians to bring preeminent people to their side.

But every elections campaign through social networking sites is not permitted. Under election law, the spread of false information and slandering of opposing candidates are banned. This rule also applies to social networking sites. Illegal online campaigns can be spotted more easily because of the traces they leave on the Internet. The government should strictly monitor and crack down on illegal online activities that distort the principles of elections.