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Did You #TweetTheResults?

Posted on 3 May 2011

Check out #tweettheresults for what will probably be the highest concentration of illegal tweets you’ll get to see on twitter ever.

— Brock Warner (@brockwarner) May 3, 2011

 

I am not going to opine on the election results beyond what I said last night. But, after the fact, I would like to comment on the #TweetTheResults hashtag that was a secondary story for a couple of hours.

Quick back-story. First, on April 21:

“The country’s electoral agency issued a warning to social media users this week, reminding them that Section 329 of the Elections Act applies to transmissions made over the internet.

Penalties for violating the act could include a fine of up to $25,000 or up to five years in prison.” (CBC online)

Then:

“Jay Rosen, a prominent New York City social media commentator and professor at New York University sent out a tweet urging Canadians to protest the rule. Then two Vancouver-based social media experts, Alexandra Samuel and Darren Barefoot, created Tweettheresults.ca, a live Twitter feed that will follow the hashtag #tweettheresults to make a statement about the law and chronicle how many people flout it.” (NationalPost.ca)

And:

“Elections Canada, for its part, has taken pains to note that it’s just enforcing a law over which it has no control. Spokesman John Enright emphasized its investigations are complaints-based only, and the Election Commissioner decides whether cases are worth investigating.” (globeandmail.com)

With that stage set, the media blackout was on. TweetTheResults.ca went offline, but the hashtag #tweettheresults was live. And it was an interesting follow. Yes, there were results, incorrect results, and jokes (for example:)

RT @pbryan: Conservatives ███ █████ in ███ ridings. Liberals ███ █████. NDP █████ ██ ███ ███ seats! #elxn41 #tweettheresults

— Paul Cumin (@paulcumin) May 3, 2011

RT @TheKert Darth Vader is Luke’s Father. #tweettheresults

— Francois Marchand (@FMarchandVS) May 2, 2011

Lib=X+2, NDP=X-1, Con=X-2. Solve for X! #elxn41 #tweettheresults

— Amanda (@whysofar) May 3, 2011

 

But there was also some debate. I saw more than one person upset about people Tweeting the results for one of two reasons. They were:

  1. It would reduce the sense that the (smaller number) of voters in Western Canada have a say in deciding who forms government in this country. This is because while ballots in BC are still open, results from Quebec and Ontario would be coming in. Since they basically decide who wins, people would be voting when the game is basically in the bag.
  2. It would affect how (or if) people vote. If they see Party A is already won, why bother voting if it doesn’t change anything? Or if they want to reduce the win for Party B, they strategically change their vote.

To point 1. That’s reality. I don’t see the point of forcing the ban just to give voters the illusion that their vote matters more than it does. If there’s a problem of balance, then that needs to be addressed, not ignored. Covering your ears and singing “la la la la” doesn’t make the facts go away.

To point 2. OK. Though there were quite a lot of people arguing that they’re gonna vote how they’re gonna vote, not everyone is as set in their ways.

But, and this is a blanket to every anti-Tweet the Results argument, welcome to the 21st century. If it happens somewhere, it happens everywhere. In the world of Wikileaks, you really think you’re going to successfully prevent people from sharing election results? It’s one thing if the results aren’t made public, but the idea of letting facts be known to one province and not another is…. archaic. Especially when you can circumvent the rules by emailing the results to someone in the United States and have them Tweet them for you.

Interesting. Americans on Twitter encouraging Canadians to e-mail them early election results and they’ll tweet them. #tweettheresults

— Chris D. (@ChrisDca) May 2, 2011

 

If you want to prevent scenario 2, it seems pretty obvious: release the results for everyone, everywhere at the same time. People in Ontario can wait until 10 pm to get the same information we have to wait for. They get to choose the leader, they can deal.

Final thoughts, from contrasting sides of the “does BC matter?” coin:

BC to decide minority/majority status. A first? #elxn41

— Jason Morris (@JPols) May 3, 2011

 

I’m from British Columbia. We don’t participate in elections. We just wait for @petermansbridge to tell us what happened.

— Bruce Wishart (@BruceWishart) May 3, 2011

 

Filed under: Canada, social media

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