French Tweeters Get Around Ban On Tweeting Election Results Using WWII-Era Codes

French Presidential election, 22 April 2012 sees a throwback to World War II codes broadcast to Resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France from the BBC in London. A whole new generation of French citizens used similar means of communication as the famously cryptic BBC coded terms to subvert current laws preventing anyone announcing vote predictions in the election before polls closed at 8:00 pm.

Using simple code words for each of the election candidates, French Twitter users circumvented fines up to €75,000 for making predictions on the outcome of the election before the polls closed:

  • As a result, incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy became either Tokaji wine which, like his father, comes from Hungary, or Rolex because of his perceived “bling-bling” lifestyle.
  • His Socialist opponent Francois Hollande was either Gouda cheese (from Holland) or a soft, sweet “Flanby” caramel desert — an old and unforgiving nickname for the portly frontrunner.
  • Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was associated with the names of totalitarian regimes or rodents and Communist Party-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon was either a rotten tomato or something linked to the former Soviet Union.

From there, it sounds like people just had fun with it, figuring out all sorts of ways to obliquely refer to the different candidates and how well they were doing without directly referring to any of them. Once again, the internet views censorship as an obstacle, and routes around it, through a rather creative form of “encryption.”