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Germans fear Twitter could bias general election

world Updated: Jun 28, 2009 09:48 IST
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Senior German officials fear that Twitter, the social networking site, could bias the general election to be held in September, the Der Spiegel news magazine reported on Saturday.

While fans have hailed Twitter as the medium that empowers Iran's protest movement, opponents in Germany have suggested it is a dark force which undermines practices such as releasing advance information to selected media under embargo.

A law in Germany bans the publication of exit polls from voting stations until the day's balloting is complete.

Der Spiegel quoted Roderich Egeler, Germany's federal election commissioner, saying, "it would be a disaster if the survey results were released before voting stations close".

He and politicians suggested that an anonymous release of that data via Twitter might first reach vast numbers of people and then trigger a spontaneous vote drive to counter-act the predicted results.

Egeler said this might lead to court challenges to the legal validity of the election.

Exit polls are paid for by German television channels, enabling them to be first with the news at 6 p.m. on election day when balloting finishes but actual vote counting has not yet begun.

Hundreds of media executives have advance access to the data.

In May, two parliamentarians were rebuked for twittering the outcome of an electoral college vote for a new German president before high officials had solemnly announced that result.