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        BBC might call on staff to cut out knee-jerk Twitter use

        By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-23 09:41
        People holding mobile phones are silhouetted against a backdrop projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration picture taken Sept 27, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

        The United Kingdom's state-owned broadcaster, the BBC, is understood to be considering restricting its journalists' use of the United States-based microblogging and social networking service Twitter.

        Media analysts say the possible prohibition looks to be in response to journalists' tweets during the British general election campaign, many of which were criticized as being either biased or inaccurate.

        The Guardian newspaper reports that the plan, if approved, would require top journalists to resist breaking stories or offering instant analysis on online platforms.

        The paper quoted an unnamed BBC journalist as saying Fran Unsworth, the corporation's director of news and current affairs, was behind the idea.

        "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," the source said.

        Unsworth reportedly explained the idea to a few colleagues at an event at Broadcasting House.

        Unsworth has not yet confirmed or denied the report but told the newspaper a week earlier that journalists' use of social media had not always been effective.

        "We just need to reinforce our social media rules," she said at the time. "But I don't think it's viable to say take a step back."

        The debate around how the BBC's top correspondents use social media followed criticism of several posts during the election campaign, and claims after it from Labour Party politicians who said the corporation's coverage cost the party the election. The corporation's political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, was heavily criticized for repeating a false claim online that a Labour Party activist had punched a Conservative party activists when it subsequently emerged in video footage that one person accidentally walked into the other. Jon Sopel, the BBC's North America editor, has also been criticized for tweets that supporters of President Donald Trump say are biased.

        The BBC's possible move follows the television station Channel 4 last week banning non-political staff from tweeting about current affairs.

        Phil Harding, who was formerly the BBC's controller of editorial policy, told the Observer newspaper that the way BBC journalists use Twitter should be looked at.

        "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 said.

        The debate around journalists' use of Twitter follows the release of a YouGov survey last week that suggested Britons were losing trust in the BBC.

        The survey of 1,660 British adults found fewer than half believed the British Broadcasting Corporation to be honest and impartial.

        The pollsters found that, in December, 28 percent of respondents did not have much trust in the broadcaster and 20 percent had none at all. Only 8 percent trusted it a great deal.

        The results contrasted with a survey in October(before the election campaign) that found 51 percent trusting the BBC "a great deal" or"a fair amount".

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