Campaigning by public servants on social networks Analysis of the legal framework and practice
In the modern world, the use of social networks for political and election purposes is growing on a daily basis. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have become a main platform of campaigning for candidates. They are used for direct communication with voters, mobilizing supporters, and agenda setting. Many elections in Georgia or globally have shown the increasing influence of social media on political processes in a state. As elections draw near, political parties or candidates are actively trying to use the existing institutional/human resources, which includes involving public servants employed in central or local authorities in election processes.
Limiting involvement of public servants or employees of agencies funded by the State in election campaigning or canvassing on social networks is also viewed in the context of freedom of speech and expression. Although freedom of speech and expression is very important in democratic states and political expressions are protected, this right does not cover campaigning in a politically neutral public service, during working hours. In the electoral period, freedom of speech and expression for public service employees are subject to different forms of limitation and control.