Home U.K BBC backlash: Staff members investigated for breaking social media rules on bias

BBC backlash: Staff members investigated for breaking social media rules on bias

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A recent Freedom of Information request revealed two staff members faced disciplinary action for their social media use over the last year. Campaign group Defund the BBC said the broadcaster should have used this as a wake-up call. They said: “The BBC has no intention of addressing the issues that are making it so deeply unpopular with the people who are being coerced into paying for it.”

The FOI said one person received a written warning, while another person quit before their disciplinary was finished.

It said: “Between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, there have been two formal cases where social media has been noted as the reason for the BBC disciplinary process.

“One individual received a written warning and one individual resigned prior to the disciplinary process concluding.”

It comes after the broadcaster issued new guidelines for staff last year to “ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality across the organisation”.

BBC staff members were investigated for breaking social media rules on bias

BBC staff members were investigated for breaking social media rules on bias (Image: GETTY)

This included staff working in news and current affairs, including Countryfile, The One Show and Woman’s Hour.

The BBC’s new director general Tim Davie previously warned staff over their use of social media in a bid to crack down on bias.

He said those wanting to be an “opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media” should not be working at the BBC.

The guidelines also tell all employees that they must “always behave professionally, treating others with respect and courtesy at all times: follow the BBC’s Values”.

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Tim Davie previously warned staff over their use of social media

Tim Davie previously warned staff over their use of social media (Image: GETTY)

The BBC’s impartiality guidelines also say staff have also been warned to “be wary of ‘revealed bias'”.

This could be through the use of likes or re-posting other posts, or “inferred bias” where a post is impartial but loose wording allows readers to infer a bias where there is none.

The other rules said: “Don’t bring the BBC into disrepute.

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

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BBC presenters have hit the headlines over the last year over bias

BBC presenters have hit the headlines over the last year over bias (Image: GETTY)

“Don’t criticise your colleagues in public. Respect the privacy of the workplace and the confidentiality of internal announcements.”

BBC presenters have hit the headlines over the last year after viewers noticed they appeared to be acting impartial.

Last February, in the morning that the UK cut ties with the EU, BBC Breakfast host Naga Munchetty sparked fury when she decided to avoid discussing Brexit when looking over the headlines in the days’ newspapers.

Co-presenter Charlie Stayt said: “We’re going to have a look at the papers now but politics professor Tim Bale is our guest this morning.”

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He was interrupted Ms Muchetty who said: “I’m just delighted we’re not talking about Brexit.”

In December 2019, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis also liked a tweet claiming Boris Johnson’s rhetoric was “fuelling racism in British society”.

She then faced backlash for expressing an opinion on gender self-identification in the same month.

She tweeted: “We discussed gender self-identification last night #newsnight . It’s not ‘these people ‘.

The BBC's impartiality guidelines also say staff have also been warned to

The BBC’s impartiality guidelines also say staff have also been warned to “be wary of ‘revealed bias'” (Image: GETTY)

“It’s the fact a blanket law would allow any predatory man to self identify as female to gain access to women. That’s the danger.”

Political editor Laura Kuenssberg also faced backlash for wrongly claiming a Labour activist punched a Tory advisor that same month, in the lead up to the 2019 General Election.

Ms Kuenssberg later updated her Twitter bio to read: “I know it’s fashionable, but even in 2019 there is nothing big or clever about shooting the messenger.”

Express.co.uk has contacted the BBC for a comment.



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