Page last updated at 17:33 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 18:33 UK

Council bans staff from Twitter

Twitter website screen shot
The council said it was reviewing the use of Twitter

A council has stopped staff and elected members from using its equipment to post on the Twitter website because of complaints over inappropriate messages.

Anyone at Plymouth City Council trying to access Twitter is now directed to the local authority's own website.

Some councillors said the move robbed them of an important form of communication with the electorate.

The council said the use of Twitter was being reviewed to ensure no messages, or "tweets" may damage its reputation.

'Ridiculous' ban

The move has come after the council received a number of complaints about content on the site.

They included the city's Labour group leader, Tudor Evans, who was warned he could face disciplinary action for using insulting language about a member of another political party.

Some councillors, including Mr Evans, said the ban was not necessary and robbed them of an important form of communication with the electorate.

Mr Evans said: "To ban the whole Twitter experience for one misuse out of 900 tweets that I've put out is ludicrous.

"It makes the council a laughing stock, frankly."

Luke Pollard, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for South West Devon, was recently named the 10th most influential Labour person on Twitter and said the ban "exposed the council as backward".

Inappropriate communication can cause great offence

Plymouth City Council

He said: "In the process they have exposed themselves as a backward-looking authority blundering about in the internet age."

The council said that access to the site from its servers would be restricted to the corporate communications team while a review was carried out.

It said: "We are currently reviewing our policies and procedures on use of information technology and social networking sites following complaints from staff and members of the public about use of language and inappropriate comments.

"Anyone representing the council has a duty to uphold the highest standards and while these problems have been caused by a very small minority of individuals, inappropriate communication can cause great offence and damage the council's reputation.

"Access to Twitter is now being limited while the review is being carried out."

The social networking website offers a micro-blogging service where members can post messages up to 140 characters in length on the site from their computer or mobile phone.

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