Election 2015: BBC staff told to follow a 'balanced' range of politicians on Twitter

'You shouldn't state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality', the guidelines state

Members of the BBC’s Election team should follow a balanced range of political parties on Twitter to avoid any impression of bias, new social media guidelines issued by the corporation suggest.

The BBC updated its guidelines to staff as campaigning began. “You shouldn't state your political preferences or say anything that compromises your impartiality. Don't sound off about things in an openly partisan way,” the guidelines state.

The guidelines also warn: “Usually it’s possible for anyone to see the individuals, issues or organisations that you choose to ‘friend’ or follow on social media.

“Consider the impression given by those choices, especially if they’re contentious or partisan, and relevant to stories you cover. Broaden or balance the range if needed. The same applies to social media posts or content that you publicly ‘favourite’ or save.”

 

The advice implies that those who might predominantly follow Nigel Farage and Ukip candidates on Twitter should also choose to follow the Greens and Labour figures to demonstrate a balanced range.

Chris Hamilton, the BBC News Social Media Editor, blogged that the purpose of the guidance updates was to offer reminders “about the impression given by those we follow or befriend on social networks, and about the impact of spreading unconfirmed rumours, especially in breaking news situations.”

Staff were also encouraged to use social media to talk about non-work topics. “Social media is all about personality and being human,” the guidelines state.

Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC's Technology correspondent, tweeted from his personal account: “New BBC social media guidelines - 'Don't do anything stupid'. But it seems pics of dogs and bread are allowed – phew.”

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