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BBC set to review social media policy after Gary Lineker row

Craig Hanson By Craig Hanson, Editor-in-Chief
Published: 13:33, 14 Mar 2023 Updated: 13:36, 14 Mar 2023

Former England striker will return as Match of the Day host after missing Saturday show due to suspension

British public broadcaster the BBC has vowed to look at its social media guidelines, after reinstating Match of the Day host Gary Lineker to his position.

The former England international striker and long time BBC broadcaster was suspended from his duties over the weekend, after publishing a tweet in which he compared the UK government's new asylum seeker policy to 1930s Nazi Germany.

The Saturday edition of the long-running Premier League highlights show, as well as Match of the Day 2 on Sunday, both aired without any presenters, commentators or pundits.

This was following many BBC staff making the decision not to do their jobs over the weekend in solidarity with Lineker, a move whose end product was heavily debated on social media, with many fans complaining about the one-off bitesize version of the shows, and others lauding the lack of commentators and pundits.

Debate rages over social media impartiality

As a public broadcaster, the BBC and its employees have a responsibility to be seen as impartial and unbiased, especially when it comes to politics, but the debate is raging online over when and where that line should be drawn.

In the case of Gary Lineker, he did not make overt anti-government statements during his work on Match of the Day, but rather on his own personal Twitter account.

Fans have been arguing over whether or not that should constitute a breach of impartiality rules.

BBC to review its social media policies

In the face of this question, the BBC has revealed that it will now be conducting an independent review into the guidelines which must be met by its on-air employees when using social media sites like Twitter, particularly when it comes to freelancers like Gary Lineker.

Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC, said of the debacle:

"Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this."

“The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.”

Former England, Spurs and Barcelona striker, Gary Lineker, said in a short statement to the press:

"I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air."

The matter now appears to have been put to bed, with Lineker set to return as presenter of Match of the Day this weekend.

However, this row between Lineker and the BBC has opened up a can of worms in regards to the BBC's policies over social media usage, and the public broadcaster must review its policies and find a more sustainable approach going forward.

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