In a strange move, French media regulators have banned the words “Facebook” and “Twitter” from appearing on TV and radio unless a program specifically talks about the services in a news story, according to This Much I Know.
To clarify, if a TV or radio show wants to do a story on the popularity of Facebook, it can mention Facebook by name. However, a TV or radio show is no longer allowed to solicit followers by saying things “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow the latest updates from us on Twitter.”
The motivation behind the ban is that the regulators believe mentioning Facebook or Twitter unfairly promotes a commercial enterprise over other enterprises, according to French regulator CSA. Basically, Facebook and Twitter are getting an unfair advantage over smaller social networks with each mention.
“Why give preference to Facebook, which is worth billions of dollars, when there are many other social networks that are struggling for recognition,” CSA spokesperson Christine Kelly told This Much I Know. “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?’”
I can understand the idea of TV shows not promoting one business over another, but approaching the problem like this is outdated thinking. Facebook and Twitter are not simply businesses—they are channels of communication that help companies better reach an audience and vice versa. It’s like saying someone is allowed to call a company but not send it an e-mail.
At this point, most people in France probably know about Facebook and Twitter and what the services offer, so the move to keep them off TV and radio won’t likely harm the adoption of the services by more users. But really, this seems like an inane move that only hurts a program’s ability to stay relevant instead of keeping a level playing field for social networks.