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The words “Twitter” and “Facebook” are interdit on French TV

Buried deep in this article – which (and I realise this won’t go down very well here) is effusively positive about David Cameron and his attitude towards the internet and internet entrpreneurship, at any rate when compared with Nicholas Sarkozy – is the following extraordinary claim:

… France just banned the use of the words Facebook and Twitter on TV …

This report, however, at least adds the words “unless those specific words are a part of a news story”, which makes it somewhat less mad. Still mad, though.

Can it be true? The story seems to have come and gone sometime around one month ago, and my first guess was that maybe it was true and maybe it wasn’t, but that the wave of derision which greeted it will by now have caused the French Government to say that it never said any such thing, and that what it did was was totally misunderstood, blah blah, clarification, we didn’t say it, we did say it but we didn’t mean it, malicious twisting by foreign commercial interests saying that we said what we said, how dare they?, blah blah.

Apparently not:

The French reason that mentioning the companies by name gives unfair “advertising” to giant social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Their logic: why give a leg up to Facebook, already worth millions, when there are dozens of smaller sites struggling to survive. So, to be extra fair, when signing off, the newscasters can suggest that their viewers follow them on a social media platform in which transmission is limited to 140 characters. Bon chance!

They’re not allowed to say “email” either.

Les Grenouilles are indeed strange people.

12 comments to The words “Twitter” and “Facebook” are interdit on French TV

  • andyinsdca

    Not really strange, at all. The French are fierce in defense of their language. I just finished up a book written during WW I called “French Ways and their Meaning” and after reading the book, such moves by the French were no longer surprising.

  • Ian Bennett

    Whereas in a certain Australian soap, an entire story-line is predicated on the widespread familiarity with, and use of, Facebook. Furthermore, not only is Facebook referenced by name, its user interface (or a credible facsimile thereof) is shown on screen.

  • I’ve always respected the French for their fierce defence of their culture.

    Would that we were the same!


  • Dave Walker

    Well, I wish we’d vigorously discourage the use of the term ”phone hacking’, given that it’s currently being used in such a wildly inaccurate manner in the UK media that it sets my teeth on edge.

    If they want to report someone actually hacking a ‘phone – turning a handset into a permanent listening device by re-flashing its firmware, for example – that’s all well and good, but attempting unauthorised access to a voicemail system by typing default, null or easily-guessable PINs at it, is another subject entirely.

    The Academie Francaise lost the war years ago, when it comes to trying to prohibit adoption of Anglicisms into French, however there’s clearly a point where marketing takes over from content. For a time, pretty much all any would-be ne’er-do-wells needed to do to get themselves mentioned on the news was to call themselves “something something al Q’aeda some thing something” and make a few ‘phone calls…

  • Gordon Walker

    Actually the French, apart from the Acadamie, do not protect their language and use far more anglicisms than an expatriate Brit like me. It is common to see such abominations as “King d’Home” used to name a portable oven!

  • guy herbert

    They are allowed to say “email”.

    But only to mean ‘enamel’.

  • lukas

    For once, this has nothing to do with the French mania about protecting their precious little language on the brink of extinction.

    Rather, ‘like us on Facebook’ or ‘follow us on Twitter’ is considered advertising for these companies, and we can’t have that on public TV, can we now? If I remember correctly, private TV channels can use those dirty words to their hearts’ content.

  • Alasdair

    Zut alors !

    It figures that someone named “guy herbert” (ghee err-berr) would come up with *that* one !

    And frogs most emphatically *can* say “email” – they just pronounce it courriel


  • Eddie Willers

    Mexican Spanish features the following Hispanicisms of common English words:

    to use Facebook – “Facebookear”
    to use Twitter – “Twittear”
    to chat by IRC – “chattear”
    to search using Google – “Googlear”
    to download a file from a remote server – “downloadear”
    to upload a file to a remote server – “uploadear”
    to…you get the picture…

  • Roue le Jour

    They are collectively referred to as ‘social networks’ so I see no harm in using this phrase if you don’t want to show favouritism.

    I’ve always found the French for ‘computer’, ordinateur, more accurate and appealing, given how little calculating computers actually do. Logiciel has a nice ring to it, too.

  • Alasdair

    But, Roué le Jour, the use of logiciel is insuppportable here in the US – the ACLU would never permit the expression of it, since it contains the French word for Heaven !

  • NGM

    The reason behind this decision is not the protection of the French language. Its main purpose is to prevent Facebook and Twitter getting free advertising each time some show host says “Follow us on Twitter and Facebook”; Facebook and Twitter are not the only social networks.

    So it enforces fair competition between companies; the French are more liberal than you think 🙂