CONCERNS have been raised over a lack of regulation of broadcasters’ social media after Ofcom said it was unable to deal with a complaint over a tweet by the BBC.

An infographic shared from BBC Scotland’s Twitter account triggered criticism it had misrepresented the SNP’s share of the European election vote in Scotland.

The BBC, which claimed it was only intended to be a “rough guide”, directed the SNP to Ofcom after the party escalated a complaint over it.

However the broadcasting regulator has advised it is unable to pursue the complaint any further as its “remit does not extend to regulating BBC content on Twitter and other social media platforms”.

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SNP culture and media spokeswoman MP Hannah Bardell has written to BBC Complaints Director Jeremy Hayes – who directed the complaint to Ofcom.

She said it also raised wider concerns about how the use of social media by broadcasters is being regulated.

Bardell told the Sunday National: “There doesn’t appear to be accountability and proper regulation. I’m sure the BBC wouldn’t want that to be the case either, because that is not good for anyone.

“The crux of it is we were unhappy about that content and quite surprised when we raised it with Ofcom and the answer was – we don’t regulate this.”

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The National: SNP culture and media spokesperson Hannah BardellSNP culture and media spokesperson Hannah Bardell

In the letter to Hayes she said: “I hope my sharing this information with you will enhance your own understanding of Ofcom’s remit and prevent you from advising any future complainants who make contact about misleading and, by your own admission, ‘regrettable’ BBC social media content having their time wasted by being advised to go to Ofcom. This also gives rise to a general, and indeed a more serious, point.

“In terms of the scope of regulation, we believe the BBC’s social media performance and editorial standards should be held to account in the same way that is done by Ofcom for television, radio and on-demand programmes.

“At present the BBC and other broadcasters’ social media output is unregulated and ultimately unaccountable.

“This, in the digital age, is an insufficient and regrettable situation, particularly as greater audience numbers consume their news online and traffic is driven via social media platforms.”

The infographic which was tweeted out showed the SNP in the lead with 37.9% of the vote share – but the proportional size of the bar on the graph did not represent the actual lead the party head.

The BBC said the graphic was intended to give a “rough visual indication of the state of the parties” and subsequently issued an updated version. The complaint by the SNP was not upheld by the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit.

In a response to the letter, Hayes said he was “sorry if his advice was unhelpful”. He added: “Ofcom does not include BBC social media accounts in its terms of reference and accordingly complaints, such as the one raised, are not within its remit. I should have made this clear in my letters.

“As laid out in the BBC’s editorial guidelines, the BBC has responsibility for all BBC branded channels on social media regardless of the reporting functions or moderation services of the individual platforms.

“Moreover the BBC is required to investigate complaints across all of its published and broadcast output, including social media platforms, in accordance with the guidelines."