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BBC issues staff with new social media guidance

The BBC has issued new guidance on social media usage to all staff in a bid to maintain impartiality.

Employees will be told not to “express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or controversial subjects.” The announcement follows new director general Tim Davie’s pledge last month to impose new social media rules. The BBC will also tell staff to disclose their earnings outside of the corporation on a public database.

The BBC said it had considered impartiality in the context of public expressions of opinion, taking part in campaigns and participating in marches or protests. Staff will be told they must not bring the BBC into disrepute or criticise colleagues in public, reports the BBC.

The Corporation added, “If your work requires you to maintain your impartiality, don’t express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or ‘controversial subjects’.”

Guidance will also be issued on avoiding bias through follows, likes, retweeting or other forms of sharing.

Some presenters have faced criticism for sharing personal views on Twitter in recent years. Bobby Friction, a presenter on the BBC Asian Network, recently deleted a tweet which criticised the government after BBC management intervened.

It also advises staff against using emojis which could reveal an opinion and undercut an otherwise impartial post, and to always assume they are posting publicly even if they have tight security settings.

The guidance states employees should “avoid virtue signalling” and adds, “Remember that your personal brand on social media is always secondary to your responsibility to the BBC.”

When he took over from Tony Hall at the beginning of September, Davie told staff he wanted to renew the BBC’s “commitment to impartiality”.

“If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC,” he said.

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