Digital Transformation

BBC may review Twitter guidance after reporter's Palestine casualties gaffe

By Steven Raeburn | N/A

August 30, 2013 | 3 min read

The BBC may be forced once again to review its Twitter guidance after the BBC Trust upheld an accuracy complaint against correspondent Wyre Davies from the frontline of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

New guidelines were introduced only last year.

Davies had tweeted: "In this 'limited operation' at least 13 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have been killed - nearly all civilians. #Gaza".

Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev on Newsnight

The trust concluded that the tweet breached the corporations accuracy guidelines after it was later established that four of the casualties were civilians. The remainder were described as ‘militants‘.

“The Trust has not asked the Executive to carry out a formal review of its Twitter policy but rather highlighted that the current guidance of its use by BBC staff should be looked at and if necessary additional guidance be issued,” the Trust said.

Chris Hamilton, the BBC's Social Media Editor for Journalism, said: "To uphold the complaint would suggest that for all tweeting, from both individuals and 'branded' accounts (ie @BBCBreaking etc), we must continuously be deleting tweets sent in good faith at the time and clarifying them with new tweets, potentially long after the event, as new information emerges on any given news story."

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He added: "It even suggests we should do the same for news stories in our website archive."

The BBC’s coverage of the region has been under intense scrutiny since the Glasgow University Media Group published ‘Bad News from Israel’, which concluded that the corporation’s coverage of the conflict in the region contained a pro-Israeli bias.

The BBC issued the following statement to The Drum: “We note the Trust finding and will continue to review our use of Twitter, although the ruling does not criticise existing guidance or call into question our overall use of Twitter."

It added: "The complaint was partially upheld with regard to accuracy but not in breach with regard to impartiality. The Trust commended the overall quality and integrity of Wyre Davies’ reporting in Gaza and recognised that the error reflected the extreme pressure that he and other journalists had been working under.”

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