Last week Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill into law that includes a provision, authored by Representative Eric Eisnaugle (R-Orlando) and Senator Victor Crist (R-Tampa), that make possible for candidates to make full use of online advertising, social networking, and text messages in campaigns. Use of those tools to reach potential voters has been in question ever since a complaint was filed last year against a St. Petersburg mayoral candidate who had placed adverts on Google that didn’t contain disclaimer required under prior Florida law.
The new law strikes a good balance, respecting both the medium and need for transparency. As long as the message is no longer than 200 characters and links to a website that clearly discloses who’s running the ad or sending message, actual message doesn’t need to contain a disclaimer. The new law also provides safe harbors on disclaimer requirements for candidates using text messaging, social networking sites, downloadable apps, blogs and message board postings.