Follow us on banana.

French anchors on television can’t mention specific social networking sites unless a story is about them because of a 1992 law, highlighting the difficulty of legislating in the Internet age.

The host of a news or talk show is not allowed to say, “Follow us on Twitter at…” or “See our Facebook page,” because such statements fall afoul of a law intended to prevent product placement-type advertising. Instead, anchors must use generic terms like, “Find us on popular social networking sites.”

This is from “French News Networks Can’t Mention Facebook, Twitter.”

Why the reference to Fred Kahn, the late Cornell economist who did so much to free airline travel from regulation, causing air fares to fall? Because when he was an economic adviser to Jimmy Carter, he was prohibited from using the word “recession.” His fix? Use the word “banana” in place of “recession.”

Peter Ferenczi, the author, goes on to write:

The well-intentioned 1992 law seeks to ensure that broadcast media — largely publicly funded in France and with strict advertising rules — is kept independent from marketing.

Maybe the law was well-intentioned, but Ferenczi doesn’t give evidence that it was.

See this article by Matthew Fraser for some of the other petty ways in which the French government has attacked economic freedom.

HT to Tyler Cowen.