According to a ruling out this week, French radio and television broadcasters must stop singling out the social networks on the air unless they're covering a story about that specific network. Citing a 1992 law that prohibits surreptitious advertising, the ruling is intended to keep networks from providing an unfair advantage to the already very popular services. Christine Kelly, the spokesperson for the French broadcast regulation body Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel said in a statement:
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?”
The news passed relatively unnoticed at first, but later in the week, French bloggers latched on to the idea that Facebook and Twitter aren't really like other brands. They're not types of detergents, after all, they're global platforms for communication. Benoît Raphaël said, "Facebook is a public place, a market square, Twitter, one of the principal channels of real-time information… and politicians now prefer the traditional press release." He continues to wonder how networks should send people to their social media channels if they're forbidden from saying their names on air.
Americans probably think this is really funny. But last year there was a bit of a fuss here too about Facebook perhaps having an unhealthy monopoly over the social networking space. The New York Times covered a start-up called Diaspora that set out to build an open-source alternative but has yet to release a public product.