Do campaign Twitters need disclaimers? Is it more like campaign email or a cellphone message?
In the Target Wireless Advisory Opinion, the FEC approved eliminating a disclaimer on political committee messages sent to cellphones. The request envisioned campaigns sponsoring content likes sports scores and sending messages like, “Kids are winners with Smith.” Because the FEC rules already have an exception for small items (like pens, etc.), the opinion seems easy because those cellphone screens are so, how shall we put it, small.
Twitter is a different type of service. And the disclaimer rules have been tweaked because of how new rules address “communications over the internet.” But the disclaimer rules apply to electronic mail of more than 500 substantially similar communications, when set by a political committee, and all websites of political committees available to the general public. 11 CFR 110.11. I think most people use the service through cellphones or other wireless devices, so in many ways the analysis in the Target Wireless advisory opinion appears definitive. Every advisory opinion reminds readers that its holding does not go beyond the facts of the request, however. Meanwhile, campaigns are twittering with abandon with hundreds and even thousands of users following along.