How to do Twitter, Home Office style

Oh, they have been busy bees at the Home Office this Summer.  The Go Home vans, immigration checks at tube stations, not telling Nick Clegg what they’re up to, it’s amazing they’ve found time for anything else.

On Tuesday they published their Twitter policy. While I’d like to think it was hastily drawn up in response to criticism of the way its account was used during the immigration spot checks, with statistics of how many people had been arrested were given along with disturbing photographs of people being bundled into vans, I’m not sure the wheels of bureaucracy turn that quickly. Here’s an example of one of their tweets from earlier this month:

It’s quite amusing to see that whoever drew this document up doesn’t seem to understand Twitter that well. I also had a bit of a giggle about the way the policy was being breached already.

The Ministry of Peter Bone, The Secretary of State for Nick Robinson?

Problem number 1:

At the moment we are only following other governmental Twitter accounts.

If we are not following any department that is simply because we haven’t yet come across their Twitter stream.

Except if you have a look at the 83 Twitter accounts they are following, you find the BBC’s Nick Robinson and other journalists, Netmums, The Salvation Army, ABTA Travel and the British Monarchy. Obviously, I have no objection in principle to any of these being followed, but it’s not in keeping with their stated policy of just two days ago. And if you have to pick one MP to follow, why on earth would it be Peter Bone?

Do they understand how direct messages work?

Problem number 2:

In most circumstances we will not reply to direct messages. The limitations of Twitter’s format mean that we would not be able to give you a full and useful reply.

If you send us a direct message you will receive a message explaining how to get in touch with us by email, phone or letter.

Except you can’t send them a direct message if they aren’t following you, so that doesn’t apply to very many people.

But be assured, they are listening

We review all @ messages every day, but as a general rule we do not reply to them. Instead we share the feedback we’re getting from you with the appropriate people in the department. Even if we do not reply to you directly, that does not mean we aren’t listening to you.

Well, it sounds friendly enough, I suppose. Except in the current climate, and revelations about NSA and Prism and the like, the context could be much more chilling. Who are these appropriate people? GCHQ?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , , , or .
This entry was posted in News.


  • I would of thought GCHQ would be offering a Twitter monitoring service to government – for practical purposes there is no problems about privacy – as effectively all Twitter communications are public…

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Aug '13 - 2:19pm

    Yes, Roland, but if someone doesn’t like what you tweet, they could put you under closer surveillance, shall we say?

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • User AvatarChristopher Curtis 13th Dec - 12:49pm
    I'm not as despondent as I expected to be, though I am bitterly disappointed. I think that is possibly a small sense of relief that...
  • User Avatarfrankie 13th Dec - 12:49pm
    There is an assumption by Labour party activists that next time it will be better without Corbyn. All the lost voters will flock back and...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 13th Dec - 12:48pm
    Crikey, so some people reckon that having more female than male MPs is “an important step”. Well, I suppose that, if you are that bothered...
  • User AvatarDenis Mollison 13th Dec - 12:41pm
    Good idea, we have the opportunity to rethink and should take it. A small compensation for Brexit is that we can get a better hearing...
  • User AvatarRoland 13th Dec - 12:40pm
    In Kettering I got one leaflet towards the end of the campaign. From comparing notes with friends, it seems much of the campaigning (social media,...
  • User AvatarIan 13th Dec - 12:34pm
    I agree with David - the people responsible for this campaign need to do the honourable thing and resign. It was absurd to have appointed...
Tue 7th Jan 2020