Appropriate use of LinkedIn in politics? Should there be a social media electioneering blackout prior to elections?

Yesterday I received the following message from a Linkedin contact:

Dear LinkedIn Friend

I hope you may be able to help me…

Over the coming weeks the Joondalup community will decide who will lead their City for the next four years when Local Government elections are held via postal vote. All electors residing within the City of Joondalup will receive their ballot paper from Wednesday 2 October and I am seeking support to be re-elected as Joondalup Mayor.

It has been an honour and privilege to serve the Joondalup community, working hard over the past seven years to build an effective Council team that has restored stability and credibility to the City of Joondalup.

Under my leadership as Joondalup Mayor, the City has matured into a vibrant, prosperous and liveable City with a connected and engaged community. This fact was recognised in 2011 when the City of Joondalup was named the World’s Most Liveable City at the UN-endorsed International Awards for Liveable Communities.

If you are a resident of the City of Joondalup, I am seeking your personal support. If you don’t live in the City of Joondalup but have family, friends and community networks in the City (suburbs listed below), I would be grateful if you were able to support me by forwarding this email and encourage them to vote for Troy Pickard as Joondalup Mayor.

I would appreciate your support to be re-elected as Joondalup Mayor so we can build on our successes and make the City of Joondalup an even better place to live.



PS – I apologise in advance if I have offended you by emailing this election material.

Troy Pickard
Mayoral Candidate
2013 City of Joondalup Election

I wondered whether people felt this was an appropriate use of LinkedIn – and what the consequences would be as more politicians began using LinkedIn in this fashion, and marshalling their network of supporters to make similar appeals to their networks.

I do recall receiving a similar message prior to the federal election campaign – however at federal level it would be a small and fairly targeted impost on people every three or so years.

Piling state and local elections on top of that, given the non-geographic nature of LinkedIn, could result in people receiving multiple copies of this type of appeal on a weekly basis.

So it raises a question for me – there’s often an election advertising blackout period imposed on candidates in the week prior to an election, maybe this type of approach needs to be extended to social media as well.

Or perhaps we need a way to choose whether to opt-in to (or out of) political messaging on social channels, or even a total blackout on political campaigning via social networks.

Of course there’s a position that people opt-in by friending or following certain accounts or people. If you follow a politician you can expect to receive political messages.

However what if you simply follow professional peers and friends – people who are not already politicians – who then take up politics, or become major supporters of a particular political cause?

You may have personal and professional reasons to remain connected, but simply not want to receive the political messages they start sending.

Can there be some way on social networks to temporarily screen out the unwanted material?

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