As more groups turn to social media to reach large audiences fast, Canada’s election advertising laws scramble to remain as relevant as possible.

The world of third-party advertising can be a bit tricky, but there is one rule that should guide all efforts: any time you are paying to have something appear, you should assume it’s third-party advertising.

That means ads in newspapers, on television, broadcast on the radio or banner ads on websites all count as election advertising and need to be accounted for.

But how about on social media, the wild west of elections advertising?

Well, the same rules apply. If you are tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming or YouTubeing a piece of content organically, you do not have to count any of it as elections advertising. However, the second you spend money to promote (or boost) that post, you must declare the costs of production (which includes graphic design, writing copy, proofreading, translation, etc.) and the costs of placement (how much you paid Twitter/Facebook, etc.) to Elections Canada.

The same is true for any social media ads that may not be related to actual posts or “promotional” content.

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