The BBC has published its new set of rules and guidance, which it says forms part of a commitment to “ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality across the organisation”.

The new measures introduced include updated guidance on impartiality, a guide and rules on the use of social media, rules around external engagements for news presenters and senior staff, as well as a “safeguarding impartiality” training programme.

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The corporation said its new social media guidance, which applies to employees of the BBC using social media in their professional or personal capacity, has four rules to be followed.

They were told: 

  • Not to bring the BBC "into disrepute"
  • To maintain impartiality if required: Meaning staff should not "express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics or 'controversial subjects'"
  • Not to criticise their colleagues in public
  • To respect the privacy of the workplace and the confidentiality of internal announcements

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There will also be guidance on avoiding bias through follows, likes, retweeting or other forms of sharing, as well as rules on emoji use. 

Journalists have also been warned to avoid attending most protest marches.

The BBC added there would be "tougher guidelines for some staff in news, current affairs, factual journalism, senior leadership, and a small number of presenters who have a significant public profile".

It comes after BBC bosses warned journalists earlier this year that their desire to “go viral” on Twitter could be undermining impartiality rules.

David Jordan, the broadcaster’s head of standards, said some reporters had been disciplined by senior staff over their content amid fears they had “overstepped the mark”.

Political editor Laura Kuenssberg and former BBC journalist Andrew Neil are among those whose social media content has previously sparked criticism.