THE BBC is looking at restricting its journalists use of Twitter, following the waves of online criticism it received from online users over its election coverage, according to reports. The broadcasting cooperation is said to be planning to instruct its reporters to step away from social media when breaking stories or providing analysis and insight. It comes as the BBC were roundly criticised online in the run up to the general election.
In particular, Laura Kuenssberg, the BBC’s political editor, was attacked by sections of Jeremy Corbyn’s fanbase for reporting a Tory minister’s aide had been punched by a Labour supporter.
North America editor Jon Sopel has been under fire for supposedly being critical of Donald Trump.
Now the director of news and current affairs Fran Unsworth is looking to ask reporters to end instant reporting of politics online.
A BBC journalist said via the Guardian: “She said that it was likely she would meet some resistance, but that she wants to start a debate and was now contemplating asking correspondents to come off Twitter.”
It is reported that Ms Unsworth revealed her plans during a meeting at the BBC Council Chamber.
According to the Guardian, sources have indicated that her mention of banning Twitter would have only been a joke.
Though it is thought she at least wants to implement a stricter line regarding the BBC’s social media code.
Ms Unsworth told the Guardian last weekend: “We just need to reinforce our social media rules. But I don’t think it’s viable to say take a step back.”
It comes as Channel 4 reportedly have told non-political staff not to tweet about current affairs.
Phil Harding, the BBC’s former controller of editorial policy, told The Observer impartiality is crucial.
He commented: “They need to take two steps back and make sure what they are saying is impartial and true, because we need that impartial service badly at the moment.”
He added: “The most important thing is that they hang on to the trust, which has fallen away a little.
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“They have to consider whether they need to be in among the first reactors to an event.
“It is a difficult conversation, but they have to get the balance right.”
Ms Kuenssberg had seemingly signed off from Twitter for the festive period on Thursday.
She wrote to her 1.13 million followers: “See you on the other side (follow @BBCPolitics and @BBCNews if you want to keep up, or sit on your sofa and eat Quality Street and come back in 2020)”.
The journalist has been subject to ferocious abuse online during the election campaign.
On Monday shadow cabinet member Andy McDonald argued the BBC played a role in Labour’s election defeat.
The attacks on the BBC caused its reporter Huw Edwards to write an extended piece on LinkedIn defending the service of the corporation.
He said: “Providing a fair and balanced account of a complex election campaign – with feelings running high on all sides – is difficult enough. Trying to do so while dealing with relentlessly vitriolic attacks is doubly challenging.”
The journalist warned “toxic cynicism” about the BBC could undermine the company.
Edwards also tweeted: “We are very far from being perfect at @BBCNews – but the bilge about ‘bias’ needs a response.”