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View Diary: California starts regulating political blogging. Why? (124 comments)

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  •  Paid propaganda in other media... (4+ / 0-)
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    Bisbonian, Rosaura, mimi, Dianna, generally speaking, more readily recognized and regulated than it is in the blogosphere. And, when it occurs, (I'm thinking of situations such as Andrew Ross Sorkin--the guy that runs the "Dealbook" column the NYT--being a paid shill for Wall Street over at the NY Times, as a good example of this) if it isn't formally regulated, but just a simple matter of plain journalistic ethics, it IS called out and widely publicized. Of course, hidden shilling in the MSM still occurs; and, professionally speaking, I can tell you it's also rampant, if not worse, in the blogosphere. But, there is a sincere/serious, professional effort--one that certainly does not always succeed--to police it in the MSM. If people in the blogosphere wish to be treated on a somewhat equal level with the MSM--and, IMHO, there's no doubt that most in the blogosphere do want that--it is inherently hypocritical to advocate for that while at the same time becoming alarmed at the professional responsibilities that accompany those realities.

    "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

    by bobswern on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 10:07:29 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  It's not regulated at all in other media (5+ / 0-)

      "Journalistic ethics" is no more enforced than online ethics; if anything, I think we do a better, more aggressive job of sniffing out shills than do other media.  I don't see a need for two different sets of legal requirements.

      •  Some of it is (3+ / 0-)
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        bobswern, mimi, trumpeter

        Campaign TV ads have to state that they are affiliated with a particular campaign, and generally if they are being interviewed the reporter states the person's affiliation. When someone who is not a journalist writes a column in, say, the Sacramento Bee, there is a statement down below it that the person works for (whatever organization). I agree though, some of that is voluntary action on behalf of the media outlet, rather than being regulated.

      •  But, you advocate for the blogosphere... (2+ / 0-)
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        mimi, Dianna be treated on par with the MSM, no? (And, just as a matter of technological evolution, most here would state that's happening, whether we'd like it or not.)

        Professionally speaking, while there's more paid manipulation of the (MSM) press, nowadays, than ever--and I find it reprehensible--I would beg to vociferously differ. (i.e.: Roger Ailes is at Fox News, it's self-evident from whereof he speaks--perhaps here moreso than other places, since i.d. disclosure is optional at DKos--based upon public knowledge about him.) To argue that ethics are no more enforced in the MSM than they are online, especially when far too often you don't even know the identity of the person behind the screen name--is, inherently, downright Orwellian double-speak. Sorry, but it just is.

        "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

        by bobswern on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 10:25:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, it's not. (2+ / 0-)
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          johnny wurster, eparrot

          It's regulating one form of media while leaving others alone to self-regulation.  Treating them on par with each other would require regulating both, or neither.

        •  It doesn't look like the law ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... forces a person's screen name needs to be "outed" in the disclosure of the payment.  It looks like the report will indicate that John Doe (not "PaidShillForMyCampaign2014") received a payment of $500 to post a positive or negative statement about the candidate or issue.

          (b) When reporting an itemized expenditure pursuant to Sections 84211(k) or 84303, a committee, pursuant to Section 82013(a), must specifically describe amounts paid by the committee to provide favorable or unfavorable content or commentary on a candidate or ballot measure by
          (1) Providing content for or posting on a web site or a web log (commonly known as a “blog”), whether one’s own or another’s;
          (2) Providing content for or posting on a social media site;
          (3) Creating video content to be posted online.
          (c) When reporting these expenditures, whether the payment is made directly or through a third party, committees must include as much specificity as possible, including the amount of the payment, the payee, the name of the person providing services, and the name of the website or the URL on which the communications are published in the first instance. The committee must report the expenditure for online content using the expenditure code “WEB” and a specific description.

          Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

          by Hey338Too on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 10:40:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The enforcement challenge will be in (3+ / 0-)

            people who are paid by the campaign for other services who post online in their own time, especially on short-form media like twitter.

            This isn't an issue when the person is a campaign manager, but it gets greyer if they person is say an accountant who works for many, many people.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 10:48:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But the law seems to read that the payment... (2+ / 0-)
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              Adam B, FG

              ... is tied directly to providing some form of content, right?  

              must specifically describe amounts paid by the committee to provide favorable or unfavorable content or commentary on a candidate or ballot measure
              So if you are a paid accountant for a campaign but provide web content, social media commentary or video on your own time, then the campaign shouldn't need to report your "effort" - or am I reading that incorrectly.

              Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

              by Hey338Too on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 11:02:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Suprising (0+ / 0-)

            I am really surprised to see this on the front page.  It is clearly a law to force corporate interests to be more transparent about their political PR and those who are their paid publicists.  This is no different than any other disclosures, and should be discouraged.

            The only people who are going to be hurt by this are the corporations that significantly rely on paid 'astroturfers' and those who astroturf.  I never though that Daily Kos would be in such a category.

      •  Maybe this is (0+ / 0-)

        just a first step that could actually be gotten through committee?

        I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

        by trumpeter on Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 03:09:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure you're right. (0+ / 0-)

        If I understand, this won't affect just blogs, but other kinds of online activity like, say, reddit comments and votes?

        Social media sites like reddit are huge among young people, and if you spend time in the political reddits, you know they tend to be overwhelmingly liberal and pro-Obama. Articles and videos from Daily Kos, The Daily Show, Maddow, Krugman, alternet, thinkprogress, etc. are always being highlighted, upvoted, and drawn to the attention of the community. Very rarely do right-wing sources get cited, upvoted, and widely discussed.

        But that's been changing lately. Since Snowden and the NSA revelations there has been much more anti-Obama activity on reddit, and many more cynical, "both parties do it, they're all the same" arguments. In the last few months there have probably been more popular posts attacking Obama and the White House than there were since he was elected.

        And it makes me wonder.

        Now, it is probably a reflection of the fact that young people are liberal and lean Democratic, but still have a strong libertarian streak in them. And it may be that the reddit community has a special interest in issues of online privacy.

        But if I were a political operative with a lot of money and the charge of making young people less likely to vote for Democrats, this is exactly the kind of strategy I would propose - hire people to infiltrate communities like reddit and exploit the libertarian impulses of the young and aggravate fears of big-government intrusion into their online experience. I would post and upvote any source that undermined confidence in Obama's commitment to transparency and privacy. I would promote fear of government and cynicism in general. Fear and cynicism always benefit the right.

        Ok, I know it's pure speculation and maybe a little paranoid, but that's why it might be good to require some disclosure. If the reddit community found out such a thing was going on, oh boy would there be a backlash.

        I don't even know if the California rules would be likely to expose this kind of activity, since it sounds like they are only going to monitor campaign spending. I think I'd like to see it expanded to include any payments by political organizations.

        Why shouldn't I know if your blog post or comment is being paid for by somebody? If you're honest with your readers, you'd disclose that anyway. If we want bloggers to have the same respect as "professional" journalists, shouldn't we expect them to have similar rules of disclosure.

        So, unless the right-wing fringe is correct and George Soros is behind everything we do, I don't see why we would object to this.

    •  That's crap (2+ / 0-)
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      hooper, ceebee7

      It happens all the time on television and almost never is called out in any way. I recall reading that well over half of the 'military experts' on during a specific month on all of the channels being monitored turned out to have unstated conflicts of interest, but they were never pointed out by anyone except a study, and nothing happened when they were revealed, not even a decrease in those specific people's appearances. Just for one example.

      However, I will say, in response to the diarist:

      1. What, exactly, is the problem that this is intended to solve? Has California state and local politics been overrun by covert, deceptive online activity? Are citizens bamboozled on a regular basis?
      Actually, yes. I personally have tracked down the sources for three separate 'grassroots' alerts sent out to California residents (links were emailed out and posted far and wide in blog comments, and in blog articles, to advertise a blog/web site). Because the people doing this aren't fully tech-savvy yet, you can often find out information about domains, and trace ownership of them back to the group paying for them, even if the site/blog/whatever claims a different source. I don't know if this is a 'California' thing or not, but we very frequently end up with fake grassroots stuff being funded in precisely that way.

      Of the three I tracked down, this would only affect one, because the other two were not funded by 'campaigns' as such. But it might be a step in the right direction. If only they'd do it for traditional media as well.

      •  If that is so (1+ / 0-)
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        Old Sailor

        then doesn't it stand to reason that over time people will either turn to online sources for their information or be more willing to frequent non-online sources that do a better job at disclosure than others, just to retain their credibility.  Its not as if the law is coming down on one side or the other of any issue with respect to content.

        I think such regulations push political discourse in the right direction.  No one is arguing that somethings can not be said, but rather if you are paid to say them, that needs to be disclosed.  Obviously, the precise wording of the disclosure might vary depending on the precise roll for which services are being rendered (ie accounting, webhosting, direct paid, campaign staff, etc.).  What is wrong with making our political dialog honest?  More importantly, don't we give up our freedom if the political market place is distorted to the point no one knows who is paying for what, except the elite few doing all the manipulating?  

      •  Just partisan-wise, wouldn't you think the Right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Old Sailor

        would pay many more moles than the Left?  They have infinitely more money.

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