#cdnfoi wasn't the only hashtag under consideration. (Graphic by Will Brown)

#cdnfoi wasn’t the only hashtag under consideration. (Graphic by Will Brown)

The campaign to encourage Canadians to tag stories about government secrecy with #cdnfoi on twitter has so far been a success.

According to the service Hashtracking, from September 17 to 24, there were just 79 tweets using that tag. But between September 25, the day before that campaign was officially launched, and October 2, there were 1,018. That’s almost 13 times more.

#cdnfoi usage between September 5 and October 5 (Graphic by Hashtrack)

#cdnfoi usage between September 5 and October 5. (Graphic by Hashtrack)

But what made us decide to promote #cdnfoi , which was originally created by former Canadian Press deputy Ottawa bureau chief Dean Beeby, over another hashtag?

Well, here’s the list of the other options that were under consideration by the campaign’s sponsors —  the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, the Canadian Association of Journalists, IntegrityBC and DeSmog Canada  — as well as why they weren’t selected.

#ATIP This abbreviation for access to information and privacy is common at the federal level but not at the provincial level.

ATIP, which is sometimes used as a hashtag for “a tip,” also refers to requests for information under two pieces of legislation: the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

By comparison, the principle of freedom of information is about more than that, encompassing the need for policies such as open meetings and less restrictive media relations policies.

Moreover, there has been some controversy over the federal Access to Information Act not being named the Freedom of Information Act. In a 2001 article published in the Canadian Parliamentary Review, former MP John Bryden wrote:

…the Canadian government has never stated that it believes in [the principle that the public’s right to know is superior to whatever right to privacy public officials might have]. Indeed, it has prevaricated by the very choice of name for its freedom of information legislation: Access to Information Act. It is a cautious title, used only by Canada, Hong Kong and South Africa. It implies that people are entitled to government information but the government has no responsibility to provide it.

#FOI This abbreviation for freedom of information is common at the provincial level. But foi is also the word for faith in French and is sometimes used as a hashtag by speakers of that language.

#CDNRTK This abbreviation for Canadian right to know has the advantage of being about a powerful principle. But RTK isn’t a common abbreviation, nor is RTI, which stands for right to information.

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