French Tweeters Use Code Words to Flout Election News Ban

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Last week French Twitter users were warned against reporting results from the French Presidential election before polls were closed. France has a strict law banning exit poll results from being published or broadcasted before voting has ended. It was asserted that election results published on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook could fall under the law and incur fines of up to 75,000 euros.

My speculations turned out to be correct and French citizens ignored these warnings, openly tweeting election results - but with a twist. The New York Times reports that French citizens were using code words to report election results before the close of polling. Words such as tomato, flan, and other thinly-coded references that French citizens would instantly understand, stood in for the candidate's names in tweets. Flan stood for Francois Hollande, the French Socialist Party candidate who currently leads with 28% of the vote. Incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was sometimes referred to using allusions to the temperature in Budapest.

The issue now is what the French government will do about such open, if playful, disrespect of the law. According to the New York Times, traditional French media outlets respected the ban, meaning they were silent while coverage of their country's election was provided by Belgian and Swiss media. I suspect the tweets and announcements will be ignored this time, since the election results were not close enough to warrant a challenge from any candidate. However, this is an issue that will only grow, as social media begins to overtake traditional news outlets.

Is the French election law banning early election results a relic of the past that has no hope of being enforced, or do you think the French government will follow up in some way? Have a look at some of the tweets that went out yesterday and leave a comment below.

En direct de #radiolondres: Le flan 28, le nain 26, voldemort 16, cravate rouge 13, mais euuh 11. 1 day ago via Facebook ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Le prix du flan à drôlement augmenté en Guadeloupe mais les Rolex sont en solde. Je répète... #radiolondres 1 day ago via HootSuite ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Apparemment la météo mondiale donne : 27° à Amsterdam, 26° à Budapest, 17° à Nuremberg, 14° à Cuba et 10° à Pau #RadioLondres 1 day ago via web ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

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