Associated Press: Social media offers dark spaces for political campaigning
The main events in a political campaign used to happen in the open: a debate, the release of a major TV ad or a public event where candidates tried to earn a spot on the evening news or the next day's front page. That was before the explosion of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as political platforms. Now some of a campaign's most pivotal efforts happen in the often-murky world of social media, where ads can be targeted to ever-narrower slices of the electorate and run continuously with no disclosure of who is paying for them. Reporters cannot easily discern what voters are seeing, and hoaxes and forgeries spread instantaneously. Journalists trying to hold candidates accountable have a hard time keeping up. "There's a whole dark area of campaigns out there when, if you're not part of the target group, you don't know anything about them," said Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center in Washington, which seeks greater transparency in political spending. "And if reporters don't know about it, they can't ask questions about it."