11 DWP civil servants sacked and 116 disciplined for using Twitter and Facebook
Since 2009, 11 civil servants from Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions have been sacked for using social networks and blogging whilst at work, whilst 105 have faced disciplinary action for similar offences.
According to figures obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act, of the total 116 civil servants involved, 34 were given a final written warning, 35 received a written warning and 36 were reprimanded orally for their use of social media.
The DWP said use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites was "completely restricted" for most of its workers. The only employees allowed to use the sites are those who have a "genuine requirement for access". The department's official Twitter account is run by the DWP press office.
Steven George-Hilley, the director of technology at right-leaning thinktank Parliament Street, told the Guardian: "In a social media age, it beggars belief that employees are being banned from using sites like Twitter and Facebook in the workplace.
"Instead of implementing draconian rules and penalties, public sector departments should encourage responsible use of social media, that empowers staff without putting the organisation's credibility at risk."
A DWP spokeswoman said: "The DWP has clear guidelines for staff on the use of the internet and social media. The vast majority of staff abide by these rules.
"For the small minority who don't, we have strict disciplinary measures in place, ranging from a warning to dismissal."