THE BBC has fired two members of staff for misusing social media sites, including Twitter, it has emerged.
The “unusual” move comes as the broadcaster imposed an informal ban on its staff for tweeting about the BBC’s “problems”.
Acting director of news Fran Unsworth sent an internal email earlier this month saying it would be helpful if “some of our problems were not played out publicly across the social media and in the pages of the national press”.
Her email was an attempt to regain control amid the Newsnight crisis, after some of the BBC’s biggest names, including the programme’s front man Jeremy Paxman, went public with their opinions on the Corporation, some highly critical.
In total, the broadcaster has disciplined two workers and dismissed two others since the recession, the BBC said.
The broadcaster has a written policy for acceptable social media use, which all staff have access to and which warns employees that using sites like Facebook must not “interfere” with BBC work.
However, Steven George-Hilley, director of technology at right-wing think tank Parliament Street, which obtained the figures, said organisations should train staff so that they do not publicly tweet grievances in the first place.
“Misuse of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook by employees can compromise the integrity of publicly funded organisations and trigger long-term reputational damage.
“Simply writing up an acceptable use rulebook is not enough, it’s vital that staff are trained to fully understand the consequences of their actions to prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place.”
Social media agency Punch, which works on Twitter and Facebook campaigns at a range of companies, said organisations should make sure staff understood the pros and cons of tweeting personally about the place they work for and the consequences should they tweet negatively.
Although there have been cases of employees being disciplined after criticising their boss, or moaning about how bored they are at work on social media sites, Pete Goold, Punch’s co-founder, said a “braver company would apologise and take the worker off a particular project rather than dismiss them”.
He added it was "not normal" to sack employees following social media misuse.
The BBC declined to comment last night.
Laura Peacock, Telegraph.co.uk