Murmur of social media and bloggers to test election silence

Mainstream media to watch and learn as Malta’s election silence gets shattered on the social networks

Here's another challenge to the establishment, and to the mainstream media, from the vanguard of bloggers and social media mavens.

Does the day of reflection mean that it has to be "silence" on all matters electoral that should be the hallmark of the eve of voting day?

MORE Tweet, blog, or post to Facebook... election silence is golden everywhere

Bloggers J'Accuse, Mark Biwwa, Bananrepublic (a J'Accuse offshoot), Satiristan, Bis-Serjetà, and Caroline Muscat's My Voice, have all declared on Facebook they will not heed the day of reflection.

"Not because I think that more needs to be said (quite the opposite in fact)," they said in a Facebook post and Tweet earlier today. "But because a) I do not agree that I and others like me should be silenced b) I do not believe that reflection hinges upon or depends on silence c) as a subtle protest against the huge bias in the public broadcasting services d) and lastly because I am not a public broadcaster myself but a private individual with a Facebook page and a blog, lots of opinions and yes, I have the right to express them whenever and however I wish I appeal to anyone who agrees with the above to copy and paste into their own Facebook pages."

The issue is not whether election silence has to be observed on the Internet, which would seem covered by the General Elections Act's Article 114 that expressly prohibits any public meetings or gatherings in public places or on the broadcasting media "on any matter intended or likely to influence voters in the exercise of the franchise, or publish or cause to be published any newspaper, printed matter or other means of communication to the public".

Perhaps it is about what exactly counts as a "matter likely to influence voters"?

At 9:32am, the Net Television Twitter account @NETTVmalta tweeted the Floriana mass-meeting where PN grandee Eddie Fenech Adami addressed the crowd; Nationalist MP Jean-Pierre Farrugia tweeted a YouTube video of him addressing the PN general council with select quotes; and Labour Party aide Glenn Bedingfield tweeted a YouTube video that calls on voters to "make the switch" to Labour. Other not so subtle tweets using the electoral hashtag #malta2013 are warning that "the barbarians are at the gates"... you can guess who they are voting for. Expect more retweets from the party leaders' accounts throughout the day.

Additionally, while political party candidates who advertised with MaltaToday expressly demanded that online and print adverts of their candidatures are removed on Friday, Facebook is still replete with their ads.

The Nationalist Patry is also urging its voters to log on to the Prime Minister's Facebook page and click the "I VOTED PN" button to send a viral message across the network after voting on Saturday.

Journalists from the so called mainstream media will undoubtedly watch carefully as bloggers tread the murky waters of election silence before they do: but after two months of campaigning, this day of political rest is welcome, as MaltaToday pollster and journalist James Debono says.

"Many regard the day of silence as an infringement of the right of expression. In some way it is, especially in the day and age of social networks. Still, in some ways it is also a good thing that the expensive and noisy electoral machines are silence for a day. It also happens in several European democracies.

"I am sure the pressure and scaremongering continues unabated. And if it goes face to face, why should it not continue on Facebook walls? At the same time one has to draw a line. And I draw mine too."

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I think it is very wrong for the government or the courts to stop individuals from expressing their opinions. This might apply to politicians and groups but it should not apply to individuals, because if so the Government is taking away the right to speak (or write) from individuals and that is morally wrong. Voting Day is Saturday, 09 March and that is when everything and everybody should be mummed. But a day before the election? Only Third World governments enforce such an unfair law. So why is Malta enforcing the mum rule if it is not for our archaic laws? Why is it in this day and age a Government is allowed to interfere with Free Speech? It is time to reflect and change some of the archaic laws that our great grandfather thought it was the thing to do at the time, this is a different age and a different era and the Government must change these antiquated laws of old.
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Day of reflection and meditation out dated.
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2008 GENERAL ELECTIONS 315,357 eligible voters 290,799 valid votes cast 92.21% of the electorate 143,468 votes for PN 141,888 votes for PL 3,810 votes for AD 21,251 increase in addition voters from 2003 8,586 increase in valid votes cast 24,558 votes not utilised in 2008 2,704 number of votes PN got less from 2003 7,796 number of votes PL got more from 2003 1,580 number of votes by which PN won the elctions 2013 GENERAL ELECTIONS 333,006 eligible voters and it's all up for grabs!