Facebook has faced a lot of heat over allegations of political bias, namely that it has suppressed conservative news outlets. Though Facebook denies the accusations, the scandal raised questions concerning the influence social networking sites have over public opinion.
The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), however, doesn’t appear too concerned over the unanswered questions. According to a recent report, the PDC wants to use Facebook as a means to disperse its version of government transparency and, perhaps, influence public opinion.
The agency’s new director, Evelyn Fielding Lopez, is considering the possibility of highlighting the political donations of “prominent citizens” via the PDC’s Facebook page. KUOW reports:
“Lopez: ‘I think it’s harder and harder to be an informed voter. There is so much money in politics. It is very difficult to just watch the news and figure out what makes the most sense to you. So I want to do whatever we can to push information out so people know there are other resources.’”
Any plan that would allow public disclosure at the discretion of government bureaucrats is a terrible idea. Disclosing “prominent donors” on Facebook would give PDC officials an inordinate amount of power to influence public opinion.
- Who decides who is going to get disclosed?
- Who decides who is considered a “prominent citizen”?
- Who decides the rules for profiling who is disclosed and who is not disclosed on Facebook?
Given recent events, one can rationally assume that Republicans/Conservatives/businesses would get profiled more than Democrats/Liberals/labor — that’s who, after all, these schemes always target.
If voters want to view public disclosure documents, they have the resource of the PDC website. There is no reason to allow government bureaucrats discretion over who gets profiled on the PDC Facebook page and who does not.
We’ll keep you updated on any developments in this story.