Why Has France Banned ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ from TV?

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Two unexpected words have joined the list of those you can’t say on television and radio news in France: “Facebook” and “Twitter.”

The French TV regulatory agency, Conseil Superieur de l’Audiovisuel, has banned mentions of either company on the air unless it relates to a specific story about said companies, for fear of unfair commercial promotion.

In a statement, the CSA explained:

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

Considering that both social networks are so ubiquitious as to essentially count as public space – something that French blogger Benoit Raphael points out – conspiracy theories have been raised about the “real” reason behind the decision to ban the companies from being mentioned in broadcasts, including whether or not the companies are being punished for being American.

I admit to hoping that the truth isn’t something as depressingly mundane as cultural jealousy, but if that is the case, then it’s no more ridiculous than forcing news anchors to have to tell viewers to “find us on social networking websites” instead of just directing them to where everyone is already going.