France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

Summary: French television and radio news anchors are no longer allowed to say "Facebook" and "Twitter" on air.

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In France, radio and television news anchors are no longer allowed to say the words "Facebook" and "Twitter" on air, unless the terms are specifically part of a news story. The ban stems from a decree issued by the French government on March 27, 1992, which forbids the promotion of commercial enterprises on news programs.

This means French news organizations are not allowed to urge their audience to "follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/emilprotalinski or "check out my Facebook page at facebook.com/emil.protalinski." Instead, they will have to say "find us on social networking websites" or tell viewers to "check out our webpage at this URL to find links to our pages on social networks."

The French TV regulatory agency Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) insists the French government is simply upholding its laws. "Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition?" a CSA spokesperson said in a statement. "This would be a distortion of competition. If we allow Facebook and Twitter to be cited on air, it's opening a Pandora’s Box — other social networks will complain to us saying, 'why not us?'"

If you're a stickler for objective journalism, this probably seems like a reasonable rule to you. On the other hand, this is a regulation that is very difficult to uphold, given how widely established both Facebook and Twitter have become in everyday life today (this news story would have been about MySpace and Friendster if it were published just a few years ago).

This whole political drama in France over using the terms Facebook and Twitter, both American companies, on air reminds me of another similar episode. Freedom fries, the political euphemism for French fries, started being used by some people in the United States after France expressed strong opposition in the United Nations to the US decision to launch the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some decided to boycott French goods and businesses and even remove the country's name from products.

The moral of the story is that such stupid bans don't work. Sure, some people still say Freedom fries rather than French fries, but those are the crazies. Facebook and Twitter became popular for a reason, and purposefully avoiding using them will not achieve anything, except maybe further emphasize how influential they are.

For more perspectives on this story, check out what bloggers Matthew Fraser and Benoit Raphael have to say.

Topics: Collaboration, Hardware, Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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55 comments
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  • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

    As usual, the French government displays their utter disregard for logic, thus laying bare their true agenda. The competitive point is not which social site is mentioned by a news broadcaster. It occurs at the point at which that broadcaster decides which social sites to join and be a part of. They really must learn the statecraft of deceiving the governed before they can join of the league of governments that perform this function in a way that sets international standards such as British and American governments.
    simplifried
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @simplifried
      Lol? Advertisement is regulated in France, good for them. I truly wonder how far you can go in your nonsense, moreover the CSA isn't part of any government...
      sensi23
  • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

    Having lived half my life in both France and the US I can say that there is only one country in which I feel protected from corporate manipulation, deceit, invasiveness, dishonesty and blackballing (including health corporations). In the other I feel the government plays it's role in defending the interests of the people who formed it and to whom it's accountable.
    I'll let you guess which is which...;-)
    thriver7
    • It must be the US. France has been proven

      @thriver7
      to lie and cater to their own needs, and not of the populace.

      :|
      Tim Cook
      • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

        @Mister Spock LOL both american parties are openly corrupt. In America its called campaign donations. Everywhere else, its called bribery.
        Tommy S.
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @thriver7

      Problem is, the US government is no better than our corporations , to be honest.

      I really think this is about how corporations and governments are run, not about one or the other being evil incarnate. Both of them can be pretty evil if you let corruption take over.

      France may have laws that do a good job of quelling corruption - but I do not think this is one of them.
      CobraA1
  • Re:"which forbids the promotion of commercial enterprises on news programs"

    Hahaha, if that were the case here in the USA Apple would go out of business!
    AboveAverageJoe
  • I know is stupid but all they are doing is enforcing an OLD law

    The law (March 27, 1992) which "forbids the promotion of commercial enterprises on news programs."

    This is not new .... it is just enforcement of a dumb old law.
    wackoae
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @wackoae But it is not. My Facebook URL is not promoting facebook. It is promoting me.
      chadpengar
      • No it's promoting you on Facebook

        Your own website would be promoting you. In your scenario you have to promote Facebook to promote yourself, without Facebook you have nothing.

        This would have been more relevant had France enacted this a few years ago. Then maybe the ban would have more of an effect. The law does have a point and Facebook and Twitter are proof of that. There are plenty of other social aggregates that perform as well if not better, they just didn't catch the right social train to get the users.
        gergyllaer
      • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

        @chadpengar
        Wrong! facebook.com/chadpengar is promoting facebook.
        www.chadpengar.com is not promoting facebook even if it forwards to facebook.
        mschauber
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @wackoae
      Not everything old is dumb and not everything new is good. There SHOULD be nothing wrong with attempting to keep journalistic integrity. We in the US have failed and will not be able to get it back for a long time, if ever.

      Is Weiner's weiner news? NO effing way.
      Is the failure of our schools to be places of education instead of a social club news, YES.

      Which one do we hear about? The one that sells, sex. The days of news being real news and money losing business is over because the fat cat mentality that encompasses modern day US society and morals (sorry, lack of morals,) puts greater value on possession and power than on friendship and caring.

      While this FB/tweet controversy in France is ridiculous, it shows that unlike us in America, they still have some hope for basic democratic ideals.
      mschauber
  • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

    ... Because the government always knows best.
    nickswift498
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @nickswift498 And in that case they are right...
      Tommy S.
  • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

    "which forbids the promotion of commercial enterprises on news programs."

    It's a wonder this nation can maintain an economy at all.

    "If you?re a stickler for objective journalism, this probably seems like a reasonable rule to you."

    I fail to see how using a common service prevents anybody from being objective.

    In fact, I think a lot of people have lost sight of what objectivity really means. People act as if even a slight "bias" kills the truth and makes something completely "subjective."

    That is simply not the case. Objectivity is about having all of the facts and using logic to come to conclusion.

    The "bias" argument is largely about lacking facts, not about emotional sway. A biased person may be ignoring or hiding relevant facts, but that is not equivalent to a biased person being wrong about a conclusion.

    If a person is "biased," and this bias is leading to ignoring relevant information, then the way to correct the issue is to bring up the missing facts, not to do silly stuff like stop using common brand names.
    CobraA1
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @CobraA1
      I think the point may be that French TV is government subsidised. So it would amount to tax dollars being used to promote a commercial entity that is a direct competitor against local equivalents. Imagine the US government using tax dollars to promote awareness of Airbus but not Boeing, and you might think differently.
      A.Sinic
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @CobraA1
      'People act as if even a slight "bias" kills the truth'
      The fact that you can accept bias in your reporting shows how effective biased reporting is.
      Fritzpk
    • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

      @CobraA1 <br>"That is simply not the case. Objectivity is about having all of the facts and using logic to come to conclusion."<br><br>What Koolaide are you drinking from? To quote from the biggest lie in the news industry, "Fair and Balanced" journalism is about reporting, not concluding.<br><br>So what makes something fair and balanced you ask... Good question: It's presenting verifiable (multi-source) facts (not opinions) and including all facts, regardless of what 'side' they may support, so that the reader/viewer/listener has the data necessary to draw their own conclusions.<br><br>"Journalists" in the true sense of the word do not present their conclusion or opinion. Period.<br><br>This is what we no longer have any of in this country. Fox picks the facts they want (or are told to present.) NBC (MSNBC, etc,) while not close to as bad as Fox, does give greater weight to facts they prefer. CNN has fallen from a channel of journalists to a channel of talk show hosts. Local news could care less about real news and presents what advertisers want which is sex and death since that's what American's have come to care about.<br><br>The newspapers that we used to be able to count on for real journalism like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times have turned their entire papers into one big OpEd section.<br><br>The sole remaining bastion of US journalism are the likes of NPR and PBS which if the republicans have their way will be defunded. At least we have our friends over in the UK to thank for BBC, BBC-US, BBC-CA.<br><br>Instead of jumping down the throats of a government trying to help the people instead of the corporations, why not go to your facebook wall and your twitter account and use those platforms to push for real journalism again.
      mschauber
  • RE: France bans Facebook and Twitter from radio and TV

    To be honest, this a complete cultural difference that comes down to language. The English language is completely flexible and adds words daily to suit the times and trends. The French language is voted on once per year as to which terms stay and which go and is much more strict. This means, in 100 years, when our grandkids read an old time capsule in English, they will all struggle to understand what a "Twitter" or "Facebook" was, but the French-speaking kids will understand immediately what the "social-networking site" was.
    Dawgus
    • That is not true.

      @Dawgus
      There is a difference between slang, words, phrases and brand names.

      All languages deal with them, and all in the same manner.

      The frrench children of the future will have the same degree of difficulty, or lack thereof, as an english speaking child.

      :|
      Tim Cook