British government issues Twitter guidelines for its departments

TwitterFive months ago the UK government advertised for a director of digital engagement, and while that position is yet to be filled it’s clear that a lot of politicians are already using Twitter. Perhaps that’s why the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has drawn up a set of advisory guidelines on how to use (and importantly, avoid misusing) the microblogging service.

Neil Williams, head of corporate digital channels at BIS, has blogged, “Micro-blogging [has] a low barrier to entry [and is a] low-risk and low-resource channel relative to other corporate communications overheads like a blog or printed newsletter… I was surprised by just how much there is to say and quite how worth saying it is, especially now the platform is more mature and less forgiving of mistakes.” [Read more…] Launches

Overheard via Twitter and Donncha today: the British Prime Minister’s office has recently launched its official site, The site reportedly runs on WordPress, and the blog format was intentional on the design team’s part.

The site aims to bring interactivity to governance, by allowing readers to field questions and submit electronic petitions to the Prime Minister’s office.

Our new site aims to keep you up to date with all of the developments of the PM’s activities through news stories, videos, Flickr images and our Twitter channel.

There are also plenty of interactive features available, including the opportunity to post your video questions directly to the PM, submit e-petitions and take part in webchats with ministers.

Readers reported slow loading and a few errors during the first few hours of operation, but that was attributed to traffic spikes; the caching plugin supposedly did its job in optimizing for speed once the static files were in place.

British newspaper’s hosting of anti-immigrant blog raises questions over censorship

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” — Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Most people value everyone’s right to free speech, and the Internet is arguably a medium where it’s much easier to exercise that right, but every so often questions are raised over how much should be allowed to stand, particularly when an organisation hosts user-generated content.

Recently, The Telegraph — a British broadsheet newspaper — has been spotlighted for hosting a blog written by Richard Bambrook, a prominent member of the the British National Party (BNP) known for their outspoken views on immigrants.

Recently, he posted a blog entry under the heading “Blame the immigrants” in which he proceeded to blame the majority of knife and gun crime on immigrants. “I have had enough of people being afraid to actually say what they really want to say. Yes … it is the immigrants,” he wrote.

A Telegraph spokeswoman defended the newspaper’s decision to host the blog, suggesting they’d had no complaints, adding, “we believe our readers are intelligent and discerning enough to avoid the content they dislike and report that which offends. That doesn’t mean the Telegraph necessarily endorses their opinions nor promotes them.”

The Telegraph launched its My Telegraph community blogging platform last year, and now boasts a 20,000-strong membership. Moderators check for offensive/illegal content.

The fact is that Bambrook hasn’t written anything illegal, and if The Telegraph refuses to publish his comments, he’ll simply publish them somewhere else.

(Via The Guardian)