The BBC may review its reporters’ use of Twitter after the BBC Trust upheld a complaint about a tweet sent by reporter Wyre Davies from Gaza.
Davies' message was sent while he was reporting on an exchange of rocket fire between Palestinian and Israeli forces last November. On 15 November, he tweeted from his personal account that “at least 13 Palestinians and 3 Israelis have been killed – nearly all civilians. #Gaza.”
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The message was re-tweeted 19 minutes later on the BBC World Twitter feed.
It was later found that nine of the 13 Palestinians killed were not civilian, as confirmed by Associated Press.
A complaint to the BBC said that Davies’ tweet had given a misleading impression of the number of dead civilians and pointed out that the tweet was not later corrected or deleted.
The complaint was initially rejected as the corporation said Davies had been working on the basis of “information he had at the time in a fast-moving situation”.
After the complaint was escalated, it was upheld with regard to accuracy by the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee. However, the committee did not uphold the complaint that the tweet had not been impartial, ruling “there was no evidence to suggest that the guidelines on impartiality had been breached”.
The Trust, as part of its ruling, urged the BBC executive “to consider the use of Twitter by BBC staff, beyond the current guidance,” raising issues of whether journalists should do more to attribute sources, particularly in fast-moving situations.