Friday, August 5, 2011

French Use Social Networks, But Incorrectly

Apparently, Twitter and Facebook is no longer “American” social networks. They did originate in USA, but with a global take on growth and profit. With the introduction of the other language platforms, such as Chinese, Hindu and Russia – for example – Twitter and Facebook moved to the largest markets in the world, penetrated so deep that no longer the local social networks are capable to compete.
And other countries picked up. France, Germany, Sweden – you name it – all of the casual, business and charitiful networking is now happening on Facebook and Twitter.
Take me, for example – I follow Arabic, Russian, British world-changing sources of information and individuals who both inform and entertain me. I’m “friends” with the Egyptian bloggers and reporters, Russian fashion designers and celebrities, British press and trendsetters, and French chefs – it can’t get any better than that.
Katie Couric on iPad at CBS Evening News
However, for all the obvious things that we are using Twitter and Facebook, the American press, for example, does not hide the fact that they are using the social media to promote the stories and personalities. Moreover, all the prominent news and show are now running promos luring the audience to write, contact, and comment to them on their social networks. But – not in France!

According to Reuters, French media can tweet, but it can't mention Twitter and/or Facebook. Per France’s media regulators – mentioning those sites would mean advertising them.

French media forbids its audience to write to them on the social networks, which means, they only have a one-way communication with the audience. And that – my friends – defeats the whole purpose of using microblogs and social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Isn’t it the whole reason for the media, companies and organizations to be on social networks as to grow their audience through the two-way communication?

In a world where global communication has taken yet another leap via social networks, the media regulator's response fueled a debate that quickly painted France as stuck in a time-warp.
"You cannot say 'look us up on Facebook' or 'Look us up on Twitter'. What we advise people to say is: 'Look us up on the social networks' - because Facebook and Twitter are commercial brands," CSA spokeswoman Christine Kelly told Reuters.


Kelly, a former journalist, explained in several radio interviews this week that covert advertising, visible or audible references to branded products outside of dedicated advertising periods, has been banned in France since 1992. (And my French friends confirmed it…)
(Btw, they also banned Coca-Cola from schools and substituted McDonald’s buns for the whole wheat ones.)
According to Kelly, radio and TV stations in France which refer their audiences to Twitter and Facebook by name are breaching that law and risk fines if they fail to comply: “They should stick to telling people to check their social networking pages, without referring by name to the two giants in that domain”.
The CSA's warning comes as one of France's most widely consulted dictionaries released a new edition that includes the word 'tweet' for the first time in a country that has long been a reluctant importer of English words. In addition – exposing the brand names on air is against France’s rules.
And here came a joke from the American counterparts, who unlike the French ones are obsessed with the social media. New York Times’ take on France’s rules could not be expressed any better than that: "Here's something you won't hear on French television news today - For more information on the U.S. trial of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, follow us on Twitter” – said NYT on its webpage during the DSK trail.
Personally – I’d agree with the Coca-Cola ban from schools in France - they choose to serve a healthy 5-course lunch instead. And the first lady Michelle Obama has been trying to do the same with the American schools), but banning social media from the on-air mentions. Isn’t it the 21st Century and the dinosaurs have left the world in B.C.?
This article won’t be complete if I didn't mention iPhone apps for France.
Best France iPhone Apps for Travel, Language, & Fun:

France Travel iPhone Apps
•    ViaMichelin Traffic France – How do I love the ViaMichelin website? Let me count the ways… In other words, having the ViaMichelin Traffic France app (FREE) as a portable version of a site that already is one of the most useful travel planning sites for driving in Europe makes me very happy. Includes coverage for most major cities and towns in France, and uses GPS to provide real-time traffic information.
•    La Parking – I simultaneously think that La Parking ($0.99) is pure genius and am amused at the name. But if you’re driving anywhere in France, this app will be really handy – it will help you locate places you can park your car all over the country. Using GPS, it will even tell you which ones are closest to you.
•    Beaches: France – France has a pretty wonderful coastline, and for many the entire point of a trip is to lie on a French beach. So let the Beaches: France app ($0.99) help you find the ones that are nearest you or just locate various beaches on a map of France.
•    Cities of France PRO – The Cities of France PRO app ($1.99) isn’t really a travel guide to each of the more than 36,000 French cities and towns it contains, but it will give you some basic information about each place and pinpoint it on a map for you (also helpful if you’re driving to any of the cities, as it’ll tell you where you are in relation to the city). There’s a non-pro version available for $0.99, which doesn’t include the ability to share saved cities with other people (handy for vacation prep) or the multiple views option for geolocation.
•    Lonely Planet Lyon City Guide – The mighty Lonely Planet empire has country-wide guidebooks for anywhere you can imagine on earth, but as yet their iPhone app offerings are city-specific (so as not to take up all the memory in your device). In addition to the Paris city guide (more on that at the Paris iPhone apps article linked at the top of this page!), there’s also a Lonely Planet Lyon City Guide ($15.99) which will be handy if you’re headed to Lyon.
•    Offline Street Maps – As handy as having an iPhone linked to WiFi or a cell data connection is, that can also get really expensive when you’re traveling if you’re not careful. Finding street maps that work entirely offline, therefore, is a good idea. You may lose some of the “find exactly where I am right now” capabilities, but you’ll still have a decent street map (and one that doesn’t require any pesky folding). There are offline street maps for cities all over France – and most of them have the word “offline” right in the title, so it’s easy to find them. Here are a few: Nice Offline Street Map ($4.99), Marseille Offline Street Map ($4.99), Dijon Offline Street Map ($4.99), Lyon Offline Street Map ($4.99), and Monaco Offline Street Map ($4.99).

French Language Learning iPhone Apps
•    MemoryLifter English/French Basic Vocabulary – You certainly don’t need to be fluent in French before you visit the country, but having a basic handle on some of the phrases and words you’ll use and hear most often isn’t a bad idea. Adding the MemoryLifter English/French Basic Vocabulary app ($14.99) to your iPhone a few months before your trip and using its friendly flashcard approach to learning new words is a great place to start. And if you keep going with your language studies, the app grows with you – it’s got so many levels that if you master them all you might just be fluent enough to buy a one-way ticket to France.
•    MemoryLifter English/French Traveling & Nature – If you like the flashcard idea but you want something a bit more tailored to just travel vocabulary, then the MemoryLifter English/French Traveling & Nature app ($6.99) is a good compromise. I’m not sure why the “travel” category gets lumped together with “nature,” but look at it this way – you’ll be able to comment on how pretty the various trees and flowers are in the French countryside… Just before you ask for directions to your hotel.
•    Collins Pro French-English Translation Dictionary – For the serious French language student, no library is complete without a good French-English dictionary. And the Collins Pro French-English Translation Dictionary app ($24.99) is an excellent one. It’s packed with more than 84,000 words, including thousands of verb conjugations, and it’s available totally offline.
•    French to English Phrasebook – If, on the other hand, all you really want is a phrasebook to get you through your France trip without (much) incident and you aren’t particularly interested in learning the language, then a simple phrasebook is really all you need. There are several options out there, from this French to English Phrasebook ($2.99) with 250+ phrases/words to this Talking French Phrasebook ($0.99) with 500+ phrases/words (and the ability to play them on your device).
•    Escargo – This is a must-have app for anyone who wants to experience the wonder that is French food without accidentally ordering something they think is actually quite gross. Escargo ($1.99) has more than 1,800 French food-related terms in it to help you decipher menus and know what you’re ordering.
•    French for Kids – I’m quite sure that the French for Kids app ($1.99) is a great tool to help get your children up to speed before a trip to France (what fun for them to be able to order their own croissants at the bakery!), but I also think it’s perfectly acceptable as a starter app for anyone of any age who’s new to the French language.

France iPhone Apps for Fun
•    ihymn France – No proud French person should be without ihymn France ($0.99), which plays the French national anthem. The app includes all the lyrics and the anthem’s history, too.
•    Tour de France 2009 – You don’t have to be a cyclist to get a kick out of the Tour de France 2009 app ($0.99). The game takes you through the 21 stages of France’s famous bike race as you pedal your way through the country en route to Paris.
•    ArounderTouch – The ArounderTouch app (FREE) isn’t France-specific, but it does include two cities that are often included on a trip through France – Paris and Monaco. The app allows you to tap your way around 360-degree images of some of the most famous sights in each city and includes some information about each sight as well. It’s a fun tool for travel prep.
•    France 24 Live – Do you love French TV? Then get the France 24 Live app (FREE) and watch France’s channel 24 from your iPhone. This app does require an internet connection to work.
•    Radio France – If it’s French radio you prefer, there are a couple apps that let you access that, too. Radio France (FREE) allows you to listen to several of the official Radio France stations, and Radio France by Tunin.FM ($4.99) gives you access to all of the radio stations broadcasting throughout the country. Both apps require an internet connection.

•    Nano Facts France – I’ve put the Nano Facts France app ($0.99) under the “fun” category, but you’ll probably be labeled as seriously un-fun if you use it to do nothing but irritate your friends and family with the France factoids it contains. Use this tool judiciously, folks.

•    All France Jigsaw – Playing with the All France Jigsaw ($0.99) before your trip is a fun way to daydream about the places you’re going to visit while also playing a game. And if you’re traveling with kids, this could be a good way to get them excited about the things they’ll see in France.
•    French Holidays Free – The French Holidays Free app (FREE) is a handy tool for vacation planning (to find out when French national holidays are so you don’t accidentally plan a museum visit when everything is closed), but also a fun way to find out when your “name day” (saint’s day) is. This is the “lite” version – the full (paid) version ($0.99) has a full listing of French holidays.

•    French Wine Zones – Whether you’re planning to use this information on a trip through France or you just want to bring some of the French spirit into your home, the French Wine Zones app ($0.99) is a good one to get. It covers more than 180 wine zones in France (and their sub-zones), and the app will even tell you which are the best varietals in each zone. - By far is my favorite fun application; especially applicable in Bordeaux part of France!

And there is always Visit Paris: There are a number of travel guides to the French capital but this application lets you learn about the history of many of its famous buildings and people as you walk around.

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