Facebook, Twitter ban has Chile politicians up in arms

Chile's electoral authority inspired a rare display of unity across the political spectrum today by banning election campaigning on social media.

Santiago: Chile's electoral authority inspired a rare display of unity across the political spectrum today by banning election campaigning on social media, drawing condemnation from both left and right.

With politicians gearing up for local elections on October 23, the Chilean Electoral Service (Servel) issued a manual of guidelines on the country's new electoral law, including blanket bans on campaigning via Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or newspaper websites.

Social networks have revolutionized election campaigning around the world by giving politicians direct, instantaneous and free access to the masses.

But according to Servel's interpretation of a new electoral law passed last year -- which replaced ones dating back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1998) -- social media outlets are now off limits.

Politicians of all stripes united in outcry.

"Servel has overstepped its limits. Its interpretation of the law is absurd. It's a serious mistake. The legislation we approved did not in any way limit campaigning via the internet," said lawmaker Leonardo Soto of the ruling Socialist Party.

"Social networks are a very efficient method. But inexplicably, there's been a misinterpretation" of the law, said Cristian Monckeberg, a lawmaker for right-wing party National Renewal. 

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