The BBC is not attempting to ban the use of Twitter by top stars and talent, the corporation said today following rumours that such a measure was soon to be put in place.
According to The Guardian BBC executives have been discussing implementing the ban, which would have prevented writers, stars, and other talent from tweeting or otherwise updating their followers about their professional activities.
One anonymous BBC executive speaking to the paper said, “There’s no doubt that Twitter is a popular communications phenomenon but it can also be quite disruptive if artists tweet about an appearance on a show or announce a new commission before the broadcaster is ready to go with the story.”
The BBC has reacted to the story by saying it encourages its writers and talent to use social media with certain guidelines, “The BBC is not banning the use of Twitter by talent or writers. The BBC has clear guidelines in place for both the personal and professional use of social media, and we encourage staff, writers and talent to use social media, provided it does not break any confidentiality agreements.”
The BBC went on to point out its social media guidelines, from October 2010, which require stars, “be tempered by an awareness of the potential conflicts that may arise [from their use of social media]”
The guidelines say,
“The BBC’s reputation for impartiality and objectivity is crucial. The public must be able to trust the integrity of BBC programmes and services. Our audiences need to be confident that the outside activities of our presenters, programme makers and other staff do not undermine the BBC’s impartiality or reputation and that editorial decisions are not perceived to be influenced by any commercial or personal interests.
- There should be a clear division between “BBC” pages and “personal” pages.
- On Social Networking sites, you should be mindful that the information you disclose does not bring the BBC into disrepute.
- For example, editorial staff should not indicate their political allegiance. Non-editorial staff should make their role clear if they wish to engage in political activity.
- It may not be appropriate to share BBC-related photographs, comments and videos. Offensive comment about BBC colleagues may be deemed a disciplinary offence.
- BBC staff are free to edit online encyclopaedias (such as Wikipedia) but should be transparent about doing so. You may respond to legitimate criticism of the BBC but not remove it.
- Blogs, microblogs and other personal websites which do not identify the author as a BBC employee, do not discuss the BBC and are purely personal would fall outside this guidance.
- New and existing blogs, microblogs and other personal websites which do identify the author as a BBC employee should be discussed with your line manager to ensure that due impartiality and confidentiality is maintained.”
The rumour of the Beeb’s social networking ban surfaced after a series of tweets by top stars, including Sophie Ellis-Bextor who revealed who would be appearing on Ricky Gervais’ and Stephen Merchant’s new show and Armando Iannucci who tweeted bout the recommissioning of “The Thick of it” before the BBC’s official press release.