French Radio And Television Newscasters Say 'Au Revoir' To Facebook And Twitter
from the paging-george-carlin dept
Here's a brief recap of France's legislative/judicial prowess:
- Introduced HADOPI, the anti-piracy initiative better known as "three strikes," which was recently condemned by the U.N. as "a violation of civil rights" due to its ability to kick certain users off the internet if it doesn't approve of their activity. (See also: Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iran.)
- A French court declared that including the word "torrent" in your URL equals an admission of copyright infringement. (If one word = pleading guilty, god help the people at the Mole Station Nursery -- update: removed the link, because the nursery folks appear to have moved on to a new link, and "someone else" has taken over the old one.)
- Passed a data retention law that required an incredible amount of user data (including passwords and verification questions) be gathered by ISPs, who are also required to log every action by every user of their services. (See also: above "See also" list.)
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.[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.]
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.
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.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?
“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?’”
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...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.
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.