Home Office dismisses three for using social networks

News 11 Feb, 2013

Facebook, MySpace and Bebo cited in FOI request.

Three civil servants working at the Home Office have been dismissed for misusing social media, according to a Freedom of Information request.

The three sackings came to light following a FOI request by think tank Parliament Street. The request revealed that the dismissals, for bringing the department into disrepute through internet postings, followed the three using Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.

Written warnings were also given to employees for their use of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. In total, 11 warnings were given to staff at the Home Office. One warning was given for causing a security breach through posting on Facebook. Three were found to be in breach of the Civil Service Code, the government employees’ terms and conditions, by misusing Twitter.

Simply sacking staff over social media blunders is a short term solution

Steven George-Hilley, director of technology at Parliament Street, said embracing digital channels and encouraging responsible use of social media should be a “top priority for every Government department as part of the digital by default agenda.”

“Simply sacking staff over social media blunders is a short term solution, instead departments should be training and informing workers about how to best use these channels to deliver faster, more interactive public services,” he added.

A Home Office spokesperson said in a statement to media: "The Home Office has clear guidance for staff on the use of social media, as well as their responsibilities as civil servants, and the vast majority abide by these rules. For the tiny minority who don't, there are disciplinary measures in place.”

This latest revelation follows the dismissal of 11 civil servants from the Department of Work and Pensions for social media misuse as well as five sackings at the Department of Transport late last year for similar breaches.