If you're one of the many Americans who's grown tired of hearing media and tech insiders prattle on endlessly about Twitter and Facebook, perhaps you should invest in French lessons. If you become conversant, you can then maybe move to France, where the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSL) has banned from television and radio the words "Twitter" and "Facebook." The words can be used in news stories, but if a TV network would like its viewers to follow it on Facebook, it will now have to say the more indirect, "Follow our social networking sites."
The new rule goes back to a 1992 law that defined these kinds of product mentions as advertising. "Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition?" said Christine Kelly, a spokesperson for the CSL. "This would be a distortion of competition."
TechCrunch says this is "extremely absurd," because "there are clear winners online (and off) and you sometimes just have to work with them instead of creating archaic go-arounds." But I'd argue that there is at least some value in a nation refusing to bombard its citizens with product placement, even if those products are increasingly ubiquitous. Besides, it's not as if people are unaware of services like Facebook and Twitter. And chances are that if someone online really wants to become a fan of a French TV station on either social networking site, they've already taken the initiative to hunt them down via that other internet heavyweight, Google.
photo via Flickr user Julian Lozelli