LONDON – British Airways is under fire for changes to its social media policy, causing controversy and becoming a major topic of conversation.
As you can see from the tweets above, British Airways employees are announcing that they cannot post any British Airways-related content due to updated social media guidelines.
British Airways Statement…
AviationSource has approached British Airways for a comment, and a spokesperson said the following on the issue:
“We’ve not stopped any colleague from posting on social media – in fact, quite the opposite. We’ve given our people clarity about what’s appropriate and when.”
“For example, when our colleagues are flying an aircraft, they’re responsible for the safety of everyone on board. It’s not unreasonable to ask them to wait until their break to take photos”.
The spokesperson also mentioned that this is purely from a safety perspective, adding: “If you’re in a car driving with your children in the back, you won’t post a picture”.
British Airways went as far after receiving these comments to speak openly via Twitter:
AviationSource has also been given access by British Airways to the social media guidelines itself, with the airline labeling out the following Do’s & Don’ts:
- Do represent yourself professionally in every way, including adhering to uniform guidelines
- Do (if you do identify yourself or can be identified as a BA colleague) make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of BA unless previously approved by your line manager and the social media team (you can use a disclaimer, e.g., “all views are my own and do not represent those of my employer”)
- Do consider creating separate social media accounts (one could be used for your content about work activities and the other a purely personal account)
- Do ensure that any content relating to BA contains the correct branding (ask the social media team if you are unsure)
- Do seek approval from colleagues before sharing content that involves or includes them
- Do take a step back and reflect before publishing social media content – ask yourself how the content could be perceived and whether it is the appropriate forum
- Do think carefully before sharing images or content from other people or companies, as doing this without their consent could risk breaching copyright legislation and GDPR
- Do consider what other posts say before you ‘like’ or otherwise react to them – doing so could be perceived as approval/endorsement of their views
- Do share company posts, events, and stories that you see on official British Airways external channels, as highlighted above
- Don’t post on social media or capture content when you are professionally engaged in your job (i.e. serving customers on board, supporting customers at the airport, working on an engine in Engineering, on the flight deck, etc.)
- Don’t ever share information or images of customers traveling with BA unless they have given their permission in writing. This includes photos of yourself taken with customers and photos which have customers inadvertently shown in the background.
- Don’t engage with competitors in an inappropriate way or engage with negative coverage or comments about British Airways
- Don’t share any sensitive content that poses a risk to our business, our customers, our colleagues, or to you as an individual*
- Don’t post content that could be deemed or interpreted as disparaging, offensive, abusive, obscene, discriminatory, derogatory, political, and contains pornographic/sexualized content
- Don’t post or share defamatory content – even if you did not draft the original post, legal risks could arise for republishing the statements
- Don’t use your association with BA (whether directly or indirectly) for financial or commercial gain
- Don’t share internal communications or emails that are private and internal to British Airways without permission
- Don’t assume that posting things on private groups means it cannot be shared more widely • Don’t post or share images of other colleagues without their prior consent
- Examples include (but are not limited to):
- Instrumentation and data from the flight deck
- Detailed flight plans or other technical documents
- In front or inside an aircraft engine
- Sharing the location of the crew hotel
- Passengers boarding or inside the aircraft without their prior consent in writing • Entry to aircraft bunks (and especially the entry code)
- Training or safety demonstrations
- Anything shot in the flight deck (prior approval is needed)
- Training courses in the SEP hall
- The galley during a service
- Below the wing during safety checks or any operational incidents
- Personal rotas or shift patterns
- Lanyards and ID passes which contain personal identification of any sort (e.g., staff/airside passes)
Not The First Time This Has Happened…
This is not the first time this has happened within the British Airways culture.
Back in 2019, the airline amended its social media guidelines which reversed its BASmart initiative, which encouraged pilots and cabin crew to be social media ambassadors for the business.
At the time, many in the industry slammed this as “short-sighted” & “draconian”.
Based on the new and updated guidelines for 2023, it would appear that British Airways is cracking down on such employees posting anything related to the brand.
Supporters of these influencers within the British Airways space have started a petition on Change.org for British Airways to reverse this policy.
Overall: A Sticky Situation for British Airways…
It remains clear that this will cause controversy for years, especially when many argue that the influencers on social media effectively offer free PR to British Airways.
Looking ahead, it is going to be interesting to see whether this policy will remain in place or whether British Airways will press ahead with this or not.
But for now, all eyes are now on the airline, the general public, as well as the influencers themselves, to see what happens next.