French government tells news anchors to refrain from saying 'Twitter,' 'Facebook'

Officials say generic use of companies' names unfair to social media competitors

Here's a hanging curve ball for Europe-bashing politicians.

The French government has told television and radio news hosts not to use the words "Twitter" and "Facebook" because doing so violates a 1992 decree barring the promotion of commercial ventures on news shows.

This doesn't mean they can't use the word "Twitter" while reporting on a story about Twitter, say. That would be a bit awkward, and would require code language or pantomime, the latter being particularly ineffective on radio. It means they can't use "Twitter" or "Facebook" as generic terms for social networking or tout their own Twitter or Facebook pages to the exclusion of other social networks.

A government spokeswoman explained the reasoning behind the decision to enforce the decree to the U.K.'s Daily Mail:

Christine Kelly, spokesman for France’s Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA), thinks that the government is correct to uphold this law.

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

A noble sentiment, but isn't this really the government telling media how to present the news and promote themselves?

Over here in the Land of the Freedom Fry, we let the media distort report anything they want. The downside of that system is it raises a generation of Americans who don't understand that Paul Revere's goal when he was riding through town "sending those warning shots and bells" was to warn those British that they "weren't gonna be takin' away our arms!"

These days, of course, Revere could tweet an equally effective warning to the British via Twitter (along with a #NRA hashtag). For France, he'd have to use a generic social networking platform.

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