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French Ban Words 'Twitter' And 'Facebook' From TV, Radio

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 06/04/11 11:07 AM ET Updated: 08/03/11 06:12 AM ET

France Ban French Twitter Facebook Word

How do you say Twitter and Facebook in French? You don't say them at all.

France has banned the names of both social networking sites from being spoken on radio or television, unless they are part of a news story.

The reason for the ban goes back to a 1992 decree that says mentioning such services by name is an act of advertising. Therefore, using the terms "Twitter" and "Facebook" constitutes preferential treatment.

Christine Kelly, a spokesperson for France's Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA), explained the ban.

"Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition," she told L'Express. "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?'"

But critics highlight the absurdity of such an edict. TechCrunch writes:

Instead of referring to specific social networking pages, like saying "Find us at Facebook.com/Audi" or follow us on "Twitter.com/Pepsi" brands will have to skirt around the issue, saying things like "Find us on social networking sites!," or directing viewers to their community pages and hoping that viewers will just pick up on where to go.

Ex-pat blogger Matthew Fraser attributed the new restrictions to traditional French protectionism when it comes to the spread of American culture.

"Facebook and Twitter are, of course, American social networks," he wrote. "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."

Back in 2003, the French banned the use of the word "email" in all government communications and publications.

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