UK government sets guidelines for civil servants' Twitter use

Posted Jul 29, 2009 by Bob Ewing
The British government has published guidelines for its departments on how best to use the microblogging service Twitter.
Twitter update page
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.
Screenshot of Twitter homepage
The document, at over 5,000 words, considerably exceeds the Twitter 140 character limit.
The guidelines inform the civil servants to make their tweets "human and credible" and written in "informal spoken English."
The document says government departments need to produce between two and 10 tweets a day, with a gap of at least 30 minutes between each "to avoid flooding our followers' Twitter streams."
Further, it advises Twitter can be used for everything from announcements to insights from ministers, and in a crisis could be a "primary channel" for communicating with the electorate.
Twitter cannot be used to distribute campaign messages, and the document adds "while tweets may occasionally be 'fun,"' they should be in line with government objectives.
In an attempt to avoid being labelled as a Big Brother effort, departments should not follow any Twitter users who are not following them.