Blogs are advertising: Elections B.C.
May 15, 2005 12:36 AM   Subscribe

Elections BC (Source: CBC) is having a tough time keeping up with all the bloggers "publishing partisan messages during the current election campaign.". Under current law they are asking all bloggers to register as advertisers, while also going on record as being open to changing the law.
posted by futureproof (14 comments total)
Great Idea!
Hopefully the US will soon also require those who express political beliefs in a public setting to register. I'm sick of people criticizing my president.
posted by hurting.the.feelings.of.thechinesepeople at 1:34 AM on May 15, 2005

It is and interesting point, though. Blogging is rapidly becoming a hot new marketing tool. I'm not talking about someone going off on a political rant on their personal blog. I'm speaking of directed blogs set-up by marketers for clients that act as running adverts. Simple and cheap to run and pretty much indistinguishable from the "legitimate" blog.
It's a fairly simple matter to flood the sphere with what appear to be independent voices touting your client's message. Controlling the popular opinion, these days, seems to be merely a matter of who shouts the loudest, anyway.
So, if you regulate partisan political advertising (read: spending) in every other medium, how do you approach this new outlet? Can you even suss-out the paid voices from the legitimate individual speech? Is this the point where you throw up your arms in exasperation and declare all controls are off?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:49 AM on May 15, 2005

> directed blogs set-up by marketers for clients that act as running adverts.
> Simple and cheap to run and pretty much indistinguishable from the
> "legitimate" blog.

There may be millions of these but I've never encountered a single one. How would I? I don't just cruise around looking for random blogs I've never heard of, 99.9999% of 'em are about What My Dog Did Yesterday.

It's easy to start a blog but hard to start a blog that anybody but you and possibly your mom will visit. Takes intelligence and talent to write posts that anyone else wants to read, and time to develop a rep so that other folks link to you and you start getting hits, and patience to keep up the spritely-but-profound posting while you're not getting hits. This may take longer that a typical election run-up.

I suppose you could somehow substitute money for talent/persistance/patience and buy a following overnight, but at that point the money starts to stand out and attract attention.
posted by jfuller at 4:31 AM on May 15, 2005

Hello??? Talk radio? It's so damned easy for these guys to go after bloggers because they know no lawyers will be knocking on their door. Not to mention the dirty little secret that mainstream journalists and media heads have been using the blog culture to profit from the very things they rail against. I'm from the US but I imagine the talk radio thing in BC is just as disgustingly partisan as it is here.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:07 AM on May 15, 2005

I understand what you are getting at, but I think you should look a little smaller-scale. A politically-directed blog needen't bee overtly political. In fact, I would submit that they would be most effective if they weren't overtly political. A blog that, for instance, appears to be by some senior citizen...yammering on about their grandchildren and the weather and their health and their last trip to Florida, etc. Very homey...very normal. Something that someone just like them would love to read. And, in the middle of all the family talk and whatnot, a small comment about social grandma is really worried about the grandkid's future. Just a couple of lines. Maybe a week later, another sentence about this idea their daughter-in-law mentioned about letting people invest their money on their own and how sensible that sounded. Nothing overt. No screaming banners. Just the words of someone's grandparent. might only be seen by 12 people. So what? That's 12 people who probably would never have listened to your candidate's stump speech. It's such a cheap medium. Almost cost-less. This is the same reason spam email still flourishes. It's so cheap that a return of one or two out of a thousand is a positive return.

You can set-up dozens, hundreds of similar blogs...each targeted to a specific group...As long as you kept it conversational and seemingly innocent, your intended message can slip under the radar. Will any election hinge on any of this? Hell, no. It's merely a new tool for gentle persuasion.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:48 AM on May 15, 2005

Thorzdad writes "You can set-up dozens, hundreds of similar blogs...each targeted to a specific group...As long as you kept it conversational and seemingly innocent, your intended message can slip under the radar."

So what's your point? Should all speech be regulated? After all if you discuss politics with your co-workers around the water cooler you're basically doing the same thing, and the message you try and convey is a lot stronger because of your immediate physical presence to your audience.

Asking for all bloggers to register -- and ostensibly declare their political affiliations on the record -- is a rather ominous request. There is no guarantee that whatever government comes in won't have complete access to that data, or be able to use it for the purpose of political payback. If Elections BC suspects a particular blog of being an undeclared advertising medium for a political party or other it is up to them to conduct a proper investigation into the matter -- that's why in Canada electoral commissions have permanent employees, instead of being run by partisans like in the US.
posted by clevershark at 8:24 AM on May 15, 2005

Jesus...did I anywhere say I was for regulated speech? I was merely postulating on the potential use of blogs as political advertising.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:43 AM on May 15, 2005

Meh. Far more problematic is stuff like a coalition of local mayors rallying behind a single candidate. That's just plain icky, and perhaps edging on illegal.

And there were a bunch of "meet the minister" breakfasts this past year, through which local city councils paid to have access to the ministers, who then funneled that money into the party coffers. That is clearly illegal, not to mention unethical.

Let's not forget that BC's main media is owned by three corporate interests, all of whom toe the same party line. So the chances of us having an informed, non-partisan democracy? Zilch. We elect who the media tells us to elect, because our media makes or breaks the party in power by the reporting of scandals. (And in BC there is never not a scandal!)

Blogs as political advertising? The least of our worries.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 AM on May 15, 2005

A friend of mine is running for the Greens against BC's premier in his riding. He doesn't stand much of a chance, but he took an interesting approach to getting his msg out via a goofy commercial, which he posted to the web. It managed to get him some news coverage. Check it out here:

posted by Rusty Iron at 10:41 AM on May 15, 2005

Dang! Sorry. Here it is:
posted by Rusty Iron at 10:42 AM on May 15, 2005

Ask your Green friend about economic policies, please, and report back here if you would. My understanding is that Green economics is somewhat right of right-wing. A little alarming, that.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:35 PM on May 15, 2005

"Canada: Like America, but with Freedom"
posted by Ayn Marx at 10:50 PM on May 15, 2005

Green Party of Canada 2004 economic policy.

The Green Party of BC has published their Green Book online.
posted by futureproof at 10:59 PM on May 15, 2005

The GPoCda one isn't a policy, it's a soundbite.

The GPoBC is detailed, and utopian. I fail to see any possibility of it becoming reality.

And that's the problem: as much as I really like some of the GP's ideas, I just can't see it working at all. And merely attempting to implement them would, I believe, destroy our economy entirely.

Too much risk, too little gain.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:16 AM on May 16, 2005

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