This afternoon the BBC unveiled its new impartiality guidelines for all its staff to follow on social media amid accusations of bias. Employees at the taxpayer-funded service will be told not to “express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics, or controversial subjects”. Tim Davie, the new director-general of the BBC, has previously threatened to remove staff from the social media site Twitter, if they fail to adhere to the new guidelines.
A poll of more than 2,500 Express.co.uk readers has found nine-in-ten believe a blanket ban on social media should be introduced by the BBC for its journalists.
The survey conducted on Thursday October 29 between 12.21pm and 7pm asked 2,771 Express.co.uk readers, should BBC journalists be banned completely from social media?
A huge 95 percent (2,635) believe a social media ban should be introduced and voted ‘yes’.
Just over four percent (121) said there should not be a social media ban and voted ‘no’.
Meanwhile, less than one percent (15) remained unsure and voted ‘don’t know’.
A number of Express.co.uk readers let their opinions known in the comments section of the poll.
One reader said: “They should just be banned.”
A second user wrote: “As individuals they have a perfect right to be able to express their personal views like everyone else so no they should not be banned from social media.
“There may be a case for the BBC to be required to place certain contractual restrictions on what its employees can say or do for reasons of ensuring its impartiality.”
A third added: “Any employee of the BBC is, like any other citizen of the UK, entitled to free speech. However, when representing the corporation they should remain neutral and their personal feelings, beliefs and bias should NOT be shown. They are employed to report facts, not their personal views.”
On all social media platforms, guidance has been issued on avoiding bias through a number of avenues, including via follows, likes and shares.
Journalists have also been told they must not support campaigns, such as by the use of hashtags “no matter how apparently worthy the cause or how much their message appears to be accepted or uncontroversial”.
A stronger emphasis has been placed on staff members who have a greater public profile.
The guidance states: “Do remember that your personal brand on social media is always secondary to your responsibility to the BBC.”
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During a previous Parliament select committee session, Mr Davie threatened to remove staff from Twitter for breaking the rules.
He said: “We will have, within those guidelines, the enforcement policies will be very clear.
“We will be able to take disciplinary action. We will be able to take people off Twitter. I know people want to see hard action on this.
“If they want to work for the BBC, I can ask people, you would suspend their Twitter account, absolutely.”