Recognizing that social media can be a land mine for journalists, the BBC has updated its social media policy.
While the BBC doesn't mind that journalists have personal accounts, they outline in six points how to tweet, blog and use Facebook without running into trouble. (Journalists frequently do -- check out IJNet's guide to 5 tweets that get journalists fired).
They begin the guide to personal accounts by stating "...as a BBC member of staff - and especially as someone who works in News - there are particular considerations to bear in mind. They can all be summarised as: 'Don't do anything stupid’".
Namely, BBC journalists can mention where they work, but they should not use BBC in personal account names. Stay away from politics and anything that might be seen as partisan and speak to management if they want to blog about issues that might be perceived as a conflict of interest.
The four-page document, updated July 12, runs about 900 words. (You can download the .PDF here).
In addition to spelling out what news staff should keep in mind while tweeting or blogging for their personal accounts, it also tells them how to treat breaking news situations and while working on the official news program accounts.
The clarification comes at a time when news organizations are trying to figure out the best way to harness social media while avoiding news leaks and controversy.
The Associated Press, which encourages its journalists to merge personal and professional social media accounts, recently issued a warning to two journalists who expressed personal opinions on social networks.