Monday, May 2, 2011

Elections act limits online comments, social media

Elections act limits online comments, social media

Canadians are being reminded to comply with Elections Canada's broadcasting ban, preventing premature elections results from being distributed even over social media sites. (CBC)

An elections law enacted when telecommunications were still in their infancy runs up against the digital age for several hours Monday when polls close in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Strict rules under the Canada Elections Act prevent any instance of "premature transmission of results" until the last polls have closed in every electoral district in the country.

That means extra precautions for online publishers and consumers.

Elections Canada has issued a warning to Facebook and Twitter users to use caution on election day when communicating and posting voting results, saying the act also applies to transmissions made over the internet.

That also affects CBC's coverage of the election, resulting in adjusted broadcast schedules and changes to the website.

As of 5 p.m. ET Monday, comments on all stories will be closed until all polling stations across the country have closed at 10 p.m. ET.

Users are also discouraged from posting any advance polling information on any related social networking sites, including Facebook, as broadcasters and publishers go to great lengths to comply with the act.

CBC Television and CBC News Network will feature a live election special airing east of B.C. starting at 9:30 p.m. ET, when polling stations are closed elsewhere in the country. A blackout will be in effect in B.C. during that time, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. PT, before the broadcast goes coast to coast.

Online, will host a moderated live chat beginning at at 9 p.m. ET and on Facebook at 10 p.m. ET.

After 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT), the online blackout will be lifted and our's website, mobile and iPad/iPhone apps will have live results from across the country, live streaming video, full coverage of the regional and national election stories and comments on news stories will be reopened.

And social media users will once again be free to share their reaction to election results.