In the realm of laws that don’t make sense in the real world: France has officially banned Twitter and Facebook from being spoken by news anchors unless they’re part of a news story. Formspring must feel pretty lucky.
The ban comes out of a decree made back in 1992 that prohibits advertising for companies during news broadcasts. That is, of course, fair on paper. News ought to be objective and divorced from all those nasty corporate interests. Coming from that angle, you could make a case for France maybe making a blanket ban of any social network being uttered on air. As Christine Kelly, a spokesperson for France’s Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisue explained:
“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?'”
My initial reaction is, “…so?” Either let them “Join the conversation” or ban them, too. But things get tricky here because Facebook and Twitter, both American media platforms, are ubiquitous. You can’t turn a corner without them coming up in some way. What’s more, they’re becoming increasingly vital to a thriving social dialogue. Despite what some might believe.
So what? If Tumblr hit a critical mass of French journalists citing it in newscasts you’d ban it for objectivity’s sake? The measure is totally impotent. Even if a journalist says, “Follow us on your social network of choice!” that won’t prevent the viewer from going to their computer and looking up the story on Facebook or Twitter anyway. The ban only makes it harder for that viewer to engage with the story.
At the end of the day, this serves as a commentary on how powerful, in bad and good ways, the aforementioned networks have become. It can also be an example of the French holding their language and culture in perhaps too high esteem. Either way, it’s nonsense. [Huffington Post, ZDNET]
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