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Maryland To Consider Social Media Rules For Candidates

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Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has said that he wants to make
government more open and transparent during his time in office.
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Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley has said that he wants to make government more open and transparent during his time in office.

By Rebecca Blatt

The Internet has become part and parcel of every modern political campaign. And now Maryland's candidacy and campaign finance director says he wants regulations on how political candidates use social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

Jared DeMarinis says the last election showed just how important social media has become.

"2008 really showed the ability to fundraise, to get messages out, to organize, to use this as a vehicle on an unparalleled level," says DeMarinis.

And DeMarinis says regulations would help protect voters from misinformation. The idea is to identify what is really affiliated with a campaign, and what is just a supporter, or an imposter.

"It's for the benefit of the candidate as well as for the general public," he says.

But regulation is tricky. Maryland could require campaigns to attach "authority lines," officially identifying their facebook pages, for instance. But that would be more difficult for twitter feeds, which are limited to 150 characters. You can’t expect candidates to devote half their message to a by-line.

DeMarinis says he will present his proposals to Maryland's Board of Elections in June. Four of the board's five members would need to approve the new rules. DeMarinis says he hopes they could go into effect by the September primaries.

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