In an age where the relevance of digital platforms is increasing in the dissemination of news and information, the Times Network has issued a curious circular restricting the social media activities of its employees.
The Network owns several properties including the English news channel Times Now and The Times of India, one of the oldest English newspapers in the country.
The circular, sent to the employees on Friday, says:
In many cases, their personal opinion masquerades as fact which reflects poorly upon the integrity and credibility of TIMES NETWORK platforms.
It further states that the decision is “in line with best international practices”.
The guidelines prevent employees from expressing personal opinions regarding politics or civic issues on their social media accounts unless the official accounts of the Network have done so. Sharing stories of colleagues is also forbidden, following the same order of command.
“Journalists must not use their private social media handles to promote or retweet their own story or those of colleagues unless the official handle/FB site has done so.”
They are further not allowed to retweet or share content or opinion which, according to the circular, may be against the “law of the land”.
Not The First of its Kind
The circular is reminiscent of another similar order which was issued by the group in 2014. Three years ago, TOI asked its employees the passwords to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, and allow the company to share content on their behalf.
The employees were supposed to let the company post for them even after they left it. They were encouraged to use accounts that had been verified by the company, while making it mandatory for them to disclose all personal social media accounts to the company.
The guidelines, issued in the form of a printed contract, were soon circulated among the employees who were asked to sign it immediately. According to a report by The Quartz, when employees raised concerns, they were told they would be addressed in due time.
The report quotes another instance when The Hindu had asked its employees to not share content from competitors on their social media platforms.