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No Tweeting Election Results in Canada

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, April 19 2011

A thought experiment:

Imagine living in a country where the government made it a crime to report on election results, where the state actually imposed a nationwide media blackout to prevent people at one end of the country from knowing how, or whether, people at the other end were voting.

Imagine living in a country where it was illegal for ordinary citizens living in Newfoundland or New Brunswick to post comments about election results on their personal Facebook walls before the polls had closed on Vancouver Island. Imagine living in a country where you could face a maximum $25,000 fine, or up to five years in prison, for "tweeting" about election results in your region on Twitter without government permission.

It shouldn't be hard. You already live there.

If you live in Canada, at least. The Edmonton Journal's Paula Simons reports that election law there seems to make it illegal for the media to report -- or for regular citizens to tweet, Facebook post, or otherwise shout to the world -- how elections are going. Seems crazy, perhaps, but an election official says that's the law:

Citizens are allowed to phone or text friends, or send private e-mails. But posting to a Facebook wall, to a webpage or to Twitter will be considered a violation.

(One part still not clear to me, though, is how if there's a ban on election result reporting, regular people would have anything to tweet.)