South Korean lawmakers have overturned a ban on Twitter during elections, opening up the network to politicians who want to get their campaign messages out to tweeting citizens.
According to Yonhap News, this April election will mark the first time in South Korean history that candidates will be able to reach out to voters electronically, up until voting day.
The Constitutional Court ruled 6-2 today that banning Twitter was unconstitutional and infringed on freedom of expression.
Previous to today’s ruling, politicians were banned from distributing any electoral material 180 days prior to voting. The watchdog in charge of monitoring this ban classified Twitter as a banned material, a classification that was overturned today.
In the court’s ruling, they issued a statement as to why Twitter is now exempted from the ban on campaigning prior to an election:
“The Internet is a medium that offers easy access to people for free or with very low cost. Therefore, it is considered as a political sphere that can drastically cut campaign costs. The nature of the medium fits into the election law that seeks fair opportunity, transparency and low-cost campaigns.”
The court went on to say that by banning internet communication such as Twitter prior to an election, the law was effectively shutting down criticism and public discourse, which are essential to the electoral system.
This new stance on Twitter by South Korean lawmakers shows that it is being treated as a public forum for the citizens rather than simply a broadcast medium for politicians, like most traditional media.