The U.S. Supreme Court, for the first time, took note of social media today, observing that “soon … it may be that Internet sources, such as blogs and social networking Web sites, will provide citizens with significant information about political candidates and issues.”
This landmark event occurred in Citizens United v. FEC, a case overturning the McCain-Feingold 2002 campaign reform legislation which required corporations to fund “electioneering communications” through PACs. Supreme Court Removes Limits on Corporate, Labor Donations to Campaigns | Fox. So get ready to see explicit corporate-funded movies, TV spots, Twitter campaigns and Facebook fan pages furthering their political views every November.
Whether that is good or bad for American democracy I will leave to readers’ own judgments.
Rapid changes in technology—and the creative dynamic inherent in the concept of free expression—counsel against upholding a law that restricts political speech in certain media or by certain speakers. See Part II–C, supra. Today, 30-second television ads may be the most effective way to convey a political message. See McConnell, supra, at 261 (opinion of SCALIA, J.). Soon, however, it may be that Internet sources, such as blogs and social networking Web sites, will provide citizens with significant informa- tion about political candidates and issues. Yet, §441b would seem to ban a blog post expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate if that blog were created with corporate funds. See 2 U. S. C. §441b(a); MCFL, supra, at 249. The First Amendment does not permit Congress to make these categorical distinctions based on the corporate identity of the speaker and the content of the political speech.