Monday, June 6, 2011

France and Online Social Media: Dealing With E-Mail and Other Threats

I live in central Minnesota, and love it here. I'm rather pleased that the pontoon boat was invented by a Minnesota farmer. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (October 15, 2007)

I have, however, long since resigned myself to the fact that the world does not revolve around Minnesota.

Then there are the folks who run France.

I am Not Making This Up

"French TV, radio programs slapped with social media restriction"
Catherine Clifford and Saskya Vandoorne, CNN (June 6, 2011)

"A decree from the early 1990s, reimplemented by French regulators, is putting an end to French television and radio announcers naming social networking sites on air except for news purposes.

"The decree banned 'clandestine advertising': the promotion of a brand outside the boundaries of recognized publicity avenues.

"The reimplementation of the ruling by France's Superior Audiovisual Council means that French programs will no longer be able to urge their viewers or listeners to follow them on specific sites, such as Twitter, as has become the norm in worldwide broadcasting.

"The controversy began when an unnamed French TV channel approached the council to ask whether, under this decree, they had the right to direct viewers to social sites.

"Christine Kelly, spokeswoman for the council explained: 'Facebook and Twitter are commercial brands like Coca-Cola or L'Oreal or any other. There are many social networking sites on many topics -- cooking, animals -- why should we mention one and not others?'

"From now on news anchors will be able to give only vague instructions as to where to find information online, such as 'follow us on social networking sites.'

"French bloggers have been up in arms on Twitter and some have even composed tongue-in-cheek ways to get round the ban. One suggested: 'find live coverage of the trial on our thread on the platform which spreads messages of 140 characters'

"French commentators have been speculating on the real roots of this regulation. Matthew Fraser, a social networking expert and author of 'Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom,' a book looking at the online social media revolution, believes the ban could be a sign of defiance against Anglo-Saxon cultural domination.

" 'In my mind,' he said, 'if it had been a French social networking site then nobody would have wanted it to be regulated, but because these sites symbolize the United States, regulation is there.'

"This is not the first time anglicized, Internet-related vocabulary has been banned in France. In 2003 the use of the word 'e-mail' was forbidden in all government literature. This was due to the Toubon law, which tries to protect the purity of the French language from anglicized words and phrases.

"This time, however, the Superior Audiovisual Council insists that the ban is in no way linked to language purity...."
(CNN) [emphasis mine]
I like freedom of speech. I'm not at all comfortable when a government wants to control what people say.

And I think that when a country's leaders think they must force citizens to maintain the country's language and culture - it's a sad situation.

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