France Implements Social Networks Ban

France bans Facebook and Twitter

On May 27, 2011, the French TV regulatory agency CSA decided that television stations can no longer advertise or reference their programs on social networking sites. A copy of the official decision is available at “Reference pages of social networks: analysis of the Council”.

The CSA claims that by use of the social networks in an advertising character contravenes Article 9 of the Decree of 27 March 1992 prohibiting surreptitious advertising.

The CSA would have a point if it complained about the fact that the social networks encourage the use of non-French words. Most of the popular social network sites are English-based. The most populars ones at the time of this article are Facebook and Twitter.

Preferential Treatment

It seems that the CSA is more upset with the fact that French-based social networks are not as popular as their English-based counterparts. CSA’s logic is based on preference, according to a TechCrunch article by Alexia Tsotis titled “The Internet Makes You Declare Winners, Unless You’re On French TV”.

Doomed To Fail

As the failures on the Internet have shown, site popularity cannot be forced upon people. The English-based social networking sites offer something that the Mono-centric sites lack. English-based sites offer inclusivity for the entire planet, while French-based types think more narrowly.

Consider that a person is visiting France and wants to contact friends or family from anywhere in the world. Facebook and Twitter offer instant contact without hassles and encourage feedback to improve in other languages. Some countries such as China have domestic copies of popular social sites such as YouKu for Youtube.

Although most bloggers think that people should be free to decide which sites to promote and visit, I do understand the CSA position. Many bloggers draw the conclusion that France’s Toubon Laws are being used to ban English-based social networks. The Toubon Laws regulate the adoption of English words that are used when communicating in French.


The CSA has a mandate to promote and protect the French culture. In many cultures, English is slowly taking over the native language. In large countries such as China, Chinglish is popular among the youth. In programming languages, English has always been the official way to express code in a human-readable format. The most interesting effect is that American English now dominates the world of business and official communication.

When left alone, people will decide what is popular which is great for competition. Microsoft became complacent after defeating Netscape in the first browser war. When Mozilla, Apple and now Google entered the browser market, Microsoft spent resources to catch up and now all consumers benefit.


France is not wrong to want to preserve their culture and help their domestic social networks. Competition is great for consumers. I would prefer they encourage the domestic social networks to become more feature-rich instead of implementing a ban.

The ban will make people besides bloggers think of the French as being anti-competitive. The Chinese way of copying popular sites such as Youtube and twitter works well. What makes France unique is the French culture, not a mix such as “Frenglish”.


  1. The CSA should continue to preserve French culture.
  2. The fact that the CSA exists highlights the short-comings of the domestic industry.
  3. The ban should be time-limited to enable the domestic industry to improve.