Too Much Free Time

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
censorship, france

Companies:
facebook, twitter



French Radio And Television Newscasters Say 'Au Revoir' To Facebook And Twitter

from the paging-george-carlin dept

Say what you will about France (go ahead! -- that's why we have comment threads!), but it's never been afraid to look reality right in the eye and attempt to legislate around it. The French government seems to profoundly misunderstand the internet, an ignorance which has resulted in some of the worst legislation ever passed and some of the most wrongheaded judicial decisions ever handed down.

Here's a brief recap of France's legislative/judicial prowess:
I could go on and on (and on -- I haven't even made it through the first page of search results yet) but you get the idea. If there's an internet-related issue that could possibly be handled badly, the French government has always been there to do just that.

Here's the latest in a long line of intellectually stunted decrees, via Business Insider:
This week we learned that France’s broadcasting regulator had just issued another decree: henceforth, hosts of television and radio programmes must refrain from uttering the words “Facebook” and “Twitter” on the air.

Thus, a French news anchor is not allowed to say to viewers: “For more information on this breaking story, follow us on Twitter.” Nor is any television or radio presenter allowed to mention a programme or network Facebook page. If Facebook or Twitter make the news, they can be mentioned on a strictly “information” basis. But no urging the audience to connect via Facebook or Twitter to learn more, ask questions, give their opinions, and so on.
[We'll pause briefly here for a collective rest-of-the-civilized-world interpretive dance known familiarly as the "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot." Additional exclamation points, question marks and incredulous expletives may be added as needed.]

No, wait! There's a reason for this! Ecoute:
The CSA maintained that any on-air mention of a programme’s Facebook page or Twitter feed constitutes ”clandestine advertising” for these social networks because they are commercial operations. In a word, French television and radio programmes cannot be seen to be promoting Facebook and Twitter as commercial brands.

“Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition,” CSA spokesperson Christine Kelly said. “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?’”
Really? Twitter and Facebook have competitors? I know there are alternatives out there, but nothing I would consider a "competitor" (which would presume some sort of actual "competition"). Myspace? Seriously? Maybe a half-decade ago (or longer). As for Twitter, who else is out there? Tumblr (Blogging for people who don't like writing.™)? whatihadforbreakfast.com?

So, if it isn't a protectionist policy propping up development of Le Facebeauque, what is it? Business Insider's Matthew Fraser has a theory:
The obvious answer is that regulators like to impose rules, if only to make themselves feel important. That reflex is particularly in evidence in a heavily regulated society like France with an omnipresent state...

But there is another, more plausible, explanation. Facebook and Twitter are, of course, American social networks. In France, they are regarded — at least implicitly — as symbols of Anglo-Saxon global dominance — along with Apple, MTV, McDonald’s, Hollywood, Disneyland, and other cultural juggernauts. That there is a deeply-rooted animosity in the French psyche towards Anglo-Saxon cultural domination cannot be disputed; indeed, it has been documented and analysed for decades. Sometimes this cultural resentment finds expression in French regulations and laws, frequently described, and often denounced, by foreigners as protectionism.
Without a better theory in my back pocket, I'm inclined to agree. And like any policy that ignores two of the biggest rules of the internet (and sometimes, real life itself), the Law of Unintended Consequences and the Streisand Effect, it will be interesting to see what sort of backlash develops among the French themselves. The rest of the world hardly needs any more ammunition.

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  • icon
    xenomancer (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 7:36am

    Challenge Accepted

    "Say what you will about France"

    Ok, France: The only sovereign nation to lose its own revolution in a manner deemed unconscionably hilarious.

    This sentiment is unfortunately paralleled in the manner by which their current ruling body is constantly kicking themselves in their teeth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 7:46am

    France is also one of the few countries that won't tolerate "foreign words" to become part of the French language. Rarely will a foreign word become popular enough to be more or less adopted by the French language but in general, they just create their own language...
    While every country is allowed to define it's own rules and laws, these kinds of rules just make them appear to be a bunch of retarded barbarians...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 8:41am

      Re:

      these kinds of rules just make them appear to be a bunch of retarded barbarians...

      Actually I think it is the opposite... it makes them appear to be a bunch of stereotypical "snooty Frenchmen" who think far too highly of themselves as the arbiters of culture.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        DogBreath, 6 Jun 2011 @ 8:57am

        Re: Re:

        Simple fix, France can save their national culture and start their own sites: LaVisageLivre.com (TheFaceBook.com) and LeCrétin.com (TheTwit.com).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:37am

        Re: Re:

        That also explains why there was so much AIDS tainted blood in France, there wasn't a French test for AIDS.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Atkray (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 8:40am

    France

    If you are ever in Salt Lake City there is a little tavern called Duffy's, very much like Cheers. Behind the bar over the cash register is a sign, it says

    F*** the F***ing French

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    mike allen (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 8:41am

    funny the BBC in the UK well known for not allowing advertising has on almost show follow us on twitter or go to our face book page. so I agree this is the French protecting the now dying French language.grandir et à rejoindre le monde

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Doe, 6 Jun 2011 @ 8:44am

    Maybe the French should give innovation a try

    Instead of worrying about what the rest of the world is doing and being jealous of their success, why don't the French give innovation a shot and maybe people will be talking about a French company.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AJ, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:00am

    Victory!?

    Did France just surrender to Facebook and Twitter in the same day? Wow...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:04am

    In France, TV and Radio have no ads at all during the day.

    I think it's stupid to forbid them to use the word twitter and facebook though since it's not really advertising.

    But yeah, you cannot expect much from a government put in place by Paul Desmarais himself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jason, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:07am

    Obviously...

    “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?’”

    Obviously Pandora has paid the obligatory fee to stay on the air.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Duke, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:08am

    Not just Twitter/Facebook

    Reading around on this, it seems that this isn't anything new - the regulator is just reminding news organisations of what is already illegal; i.e. news programs can't have "product placement". This sort of thing is fairly common in parts of Europe (although the UK went the other way this year, and started allowing some product placement).

    Basically, impartial news programs shouldn't be using brand names (whether Twitter, Facebook, or Hoover, Sellotape -that used to be a big issue in the UK a while back) when discussing stories not related to them.

    Obviously, in this case, the issue is the lack of competition - but that doesn't mean the law should be ignored... just makes it a bit silly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    RobShaver (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:10am

    So if you ...

    don't consider them competitors then nobody should? Remember when MySpace was bigger than Facebook?

    I may agree with much of what you said but you really shot a big hole in your argument with that paragraph and certainly reduced your pundit-creditability in my eyes.

    By the way, I use identi.ca in addition to Twitter ... so there! (stamps foot for emphasis)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Olgilvy, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:25am

    We're the idiots

    Seems reasonable to me. We're the idiots for allowing our news to become advertising.

    It is free advertising for wealthy private companies. They should buy ads. I don't see newscasters mention TechDirt in every damn story. I do see them mention Facebook all day and night. For free. Because everyone's doing it.

    A while back, every NPR story mentioned that they were talking to someone at a Starbucks. It was probably because lazy reporters kept going to the coffee shop for "real person" reactions. It came off sounding like every story was an ad for Starbucks.

    Kudos to the French for drawing a line between content and advertising. A journalistic mention of a brand is fine if it is newsworthy. Otherwise, just say "check out our website for more information."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Brian, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:43am

      Re: We're the idiots

      What's the difference between mentioning Twitter or Facebook during the newscast and running commercials with paid advertising (or displaying ads in newspapers)? If anything I would be more concerned about news sources not running negative stories about big money advertisers then whether they mention Twitter or Facebook.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Carl, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:33am

    Much as I agree with the sentiment of the story....

    @Maybe the French should give innovation a try

    Lets not tar all the French with the same brush. They are one of the leading developers of Humanoid commercial robots (www.aldebaran-robotics.com/en) and have many leading edge scientific programmes.

    Their governement, however, does make some..... erm, interesting legislation but hey I am British and would say that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    DerFuzzy, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:35am

    Works for me....

    Regardless of the real, and totally MORONIC idea behind the reason for this ban.. I am ALL FOR THE BAN!

    I will be so glad when those 2 sites are burnished off the internet for good. Waste of bandwidth all the way around.

    Dumb reason(s)... GREAT IDEA! All other businesses should take a lesson here..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:49am

    Tim, you might want to be a little more careful about the links you use. Most people don't expect Techdirt to be linking to porn sites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Call me Al, 6 Jun 2011 @ 9:58am

    They have a history of this

    This isn't all that surprising when you consider France's history. They sometimes make the RIAA et al look sensible.

    As you noted France is often upset by the encroachment of Anglo-Saxon cultures and language and they do their level best to try and stem the tide. Examples include creating the word "l'ordinateur" because they didn't want people using 'le computer' and frequent campaigns against the usage of "le weekend".

    They get so upset about their language that the Adademie Francaise is tasked with protecting it and are very stringent and careful to keep it pure and untainted by foreign influence. What amuses me is that this contributes to the language's decline.

    English is so successful precisely because it is a mongrel language. We shamelessly steal words from everywhere and are always adapting and messing around with the meaning of the ones we already have. This makes it accessible and versatile and therefore more attractive as a language. Its one of the important selling points for it and that sale seems to be going rather well.

    That they are extending this wrong headed approach online should surprise no one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2011 @ 10:13am

    Please?

    Less Tim, more Mike. The way Tim writes makes me now want to skip whatever item he is writing about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2011 @ 10:30am

      Re: Please?

      C'est dommage. Tant pis pour vous.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      William, 6 Jun 2011 @ 10:42am

      Re: Please?

      +1 to this. He also fails to research his articles or he'd know there are plenty of alternatives to both fb and twitter, especially if you're not in the US.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 5:13pm

        Re: Re: Please?

        +1 to this. He also fails to research his articles or he'd know there are plenty of alternatives to both fb and twitter, especially if you're not in the US.

        You're right. I failed to mention these options:

        Academia.edu
        Advogato
        aNobii
        aSmallWorld
        AsianAvenue
        Athlinks
        Audimated.com
        Avata rs United
        Badoo
        Bebo
        Bigadda
        Biip.no
        BlackPlanet
        Blauk
        Blogster
        Bolt.com
        Buzznet
        CafeMom
        Cak e Financial
        Care2
        CaringBridge
        Cellufun
        Classmates.com
        Cloob
        CouchSurfing
        CozyCot
        Cross.tv
        Cr unchyroll
        Cyworld
        DailyBooth
        DailyStrength
        Decayenne
        delicious
        deviantART
        Disaboom
        Dol2day
        DontStayIn
        Draugiem.lv
        douban
        Elftown
        Epernicus
        Eons.com
        Experience Project
        Exploroo
        Faceparty
        Faces.com
        Fetlife
        FilmAffinity
        FledgeWing
        Flixster
        Flickr
        Focus. com
        Folkdirect
        Fotki
        Fotolog
        Foursquare
        Friends Reunited
        Friendster
        Frühstückstreff
        Fubar
        Gaia Online
        GamerDNA
        Gather.com
        Gays.com
        Geni.com
        Gogoyoko
        Goodreads
        Goodwizz
        Google Buzz
        GovLoop
        Grono.net
        Habbo
        hi5
        Hospitality Club
        Hotlist
        HR.com
        Hub Culture
        Hyves
        Ibibo
        Identi.ca
        Indaba Music
        IRC-Galleria
        italki.com
        InterNations
        Itsmy
        iWiW
        Jaiku
        kaioo
        Kaixin001
        Kiwibox
        Lafang o
        LaiBhaari
        Last.fm
        LibraryThing
        Lifeknot
        LinkedIn
        LinkExpats
        Listography
        LiveJournal
        Livem ocha
        LunarStorm
        MEETin
        Meetup.com
        Meettheboss
        Mixi
        mobikade
        MocoSpace
        MOG
        MouthShut.com
        Mu bi (website)
        Multiply
        Muxlim
        MyAnimeList
        MyHeritage
        MyLife
        My Opera
        Myspace
        myYearbook
        Nasza-klasa.pl
        Netlog
        Nettby
        Nexopia
        NGO Post
        Ning
        Odnoklassniki
        OneClimate
        OneWorldTV
        Open Diary
        Orkut
        OUTeverywhere
        Passportstamp
        Partyflock
        Pingsta
        Plaxo
        Playahead
        Playlist.com
        Plu rk
        Present.ly
        Qapacity
        Quechup
        Qzone
        Raptr
        Ravelry
        Renren
        ResearchGate
        ReverbNation.com
        Ry ze
        ScienceStage
        Scispace.net
        ShareTheMusic
        Shelfari
        Skyrock
        Social_Life_(website)
        SocialVibe
        Sonico.com
        Stickam
        StudiVZ
        StumbleUpon
        Tagged
        TalentTrove
        Talkbiznow
        Taltopia
        Taringa!
        Tea chStreet
        TermWiki
        TravBuddy.com
        Travellerspoint
        tribe.net
        Trombi.com
        Tuenti
        Tumblr
        Vkontakte
        Vampirefreaks.com
        Viadeo
        Virb
        Vox
        Wakoopa
        Wattpad
        Wasabi
        WAYN
        WebBiographies
        WeeWorld
        We OurFamily
        Wer-kennt-wen
        weRead
        Windows Live Spaces
        WiserEarth
        WriteAPrisoner.com
        Xanga
        XING
        Xt3
        Yammer
        Yelp, Inc.
        Youmeo
        Zoo.gr
        Zooppa

        The largest of these is Qzone with 480 million members, almost all of them Chinese. Now, with all that research behind me, it's now clear that this word dump completely invalidates the premise of this post.

        I'll be sure to add a retraction that points out your helpful advice and possibly run a full correction, noting that this latest in French legislation is fully justified. With these FB and Twitter-shilling newscasters properly muzzled, it's only a matter of time before these two preferred networks fall into disuse and eventual "where-are-they-now" status.

        I hope that this also enlightens our other readers who I may have mislead with my snarky bashing of Myspace and Twitter. You have my humblest apologies for my ill-informed attempt to bash France without any pertinent information to back up the claims I facetiously made.

        I also applaud William for taking the lead in regards to Google's new +1 feature. I'm am also certain that the heady days of pressing FB's omnipresent "Like" button are well behind us.

        [Note: to the commenter above this fray ("The way time writes makes me now want to skip whatever item he is writing about") -- you may want to skip reading this because I'm writing it. My apologies for placing my afterthought at the end of this extra-long comment, rather than before it, but as I stated, it was an afterthought.]

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ron Rezendes (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 11:36am

      Re: Please?

      "Less Tim, more Mike.The way Tim writes makes me now want to skip whatever item he is writing about."

      Hey moron, your browser allows YOU to make that choice for YOURSELF!! The effing story is essentially about idiots exactly like you and the French gov't, who somehow seem to want to make decisions for other people regardless of how those other people feel about the subject!

      If you don't like Tim's articles or writing, then quit reading them and commenting on them - DUH!

      The amount of stupidity of both the French gov't and the comment you made has just sent me over my recommended daily allowance of "stupid drivel to listen to". Great, now I have to turn off the internet until tomorrow and it's not even noon here on the left coast - thanks a lot, jackwagon!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jason, 6 Jun 2011 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Please?

      While we're at it, would you mind volunteering to comment less? That'd be great.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JMT, 6 Jun 2011 @ 2:49pm

      Re: Please?

      Who is this horrible person "FORCING" you to read the articles not written by Mike? Perhaps you should take your issues up with them instead of bothering us.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    trish, 6 Jun 2011 @ 12:17pm

    larousse

    i think the french should get on fixing their language, we don't even have a word for 'like'; it's the same as 'love'. I live in quebec, obviously in this decision we would have to defer to the motherland.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Please god, I don't want to be french anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Lisa Westveld (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 12:45pm

    About the porn link...

    Well, Mole Station Nursery, Molestation Nursery... One less space, yet such a huge difference. :-)
    Mole Station Nursery is actually located at http://www.molerivernursery.com/ but still uses Mole Station in it's description. :-)
    There are of course many other site names that might appear different when you remove the space. :-) For example:
    Experts Exchange, Therapist Finder, PowerGen Italia, Pen Island, Who Represents... Those could also be read as: Expert Sex Change, The Rapist Finder, Power Genitalia, Penis Land, Whore Presents...
    Yeah, dumb domain names. :-) Maybe that's why the French prefer their own language instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), 6 Jun 2011 @ 5:08pm

    Dammit!

    "[We'll pause briefly here for a collective rest-of-the-civilized-world interpretive dance known familiarly as the "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot." Additional exclamation points, question marks and incredulous expletives may be added as needed.]"

    ROFLMAO
    /spittake

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    IronM@sk, 7 Jun 2011 @ 3:56am

    Blogging for people who don't like writing.™

    Sweet! I just signed up. When does my first post appear?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Howard Waller, 7 Jun 2011 @ 8:44am

    The French Viewpoint

    The froggies detest what they feel is Anglo Saxon domination simply because they feel innately inferior to the Anglo Saxon culture. Who can blame them THEY ARE!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 8 Jun 2011 @ 3:25pm

    It's a catch-22

    These companies want to be where the people are, so they build a page on Facebook and Twitter, but when they send people there, they give the sites more traffic.
    Should private sites like Facebook and Twitter get this kind of free advertising and traffic? No, but it's like telling people to visit your shop in the mall. You're trying to send people to your shop, but you're giving the mall free advertising.

    But I agree with the last conclusion that this is a way for the French to stop intrusion by Americans. I'm sure the government would allow companies to promote the French version of Facebook.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jun 2011 @ 5:30pm

    "If there's an internet-related issue that could possibly be handled badly, the French government has always been there to do just that."
    Or a military related one...

    In Canada (a country with two official languages, English and French) the province of Quebec (which is predominantly French) makes it ILLEGAL to list English without French, English before French, or English that is any bigger than half the size of the French on any signage in a place of business, failure too comply can result in a loss of your business license. It should be noted this applies even in private areas like offices or storage rooms and on things like garbage cans for staff use. From this we learn something we already know, French are very arrogant.

    They may be arrogant but they do make good food, which is why we keep them around. They should give up (something they are also good at doing) on government, run away (another skill) from France and make food worldwide. Good money to be made there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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