A report obtained through the Freedom of Information Act shows that 11 civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have been sacked for misusing Facebook or Twitter.

The figures revealed that the 11 officials are among 116 DWP employees to have faced disciplinary action for misusing social media sites since January 2009.

Reports say that when broken down, 34 of the 116 received a final written warning, while 35 were given a written warning. It was also reported that 36 were verbally warned for their conduct surrounding social media.

In May 2012, a 20 page document ‘social media guidelines for civil servants’ was published by the Cabinet Office, outlining that social media is an important tool for communicating with citizens and that the Government wants to be ‘a part of the conversation’.

According to reports though, many civil servants are denied access to social media websites.

Steven George-Hilley, Director of communications and technology at conservative think tank Parliament Street, said:

“In a social media age, it beggars belief that employees are being banned from using sites like Twitter and Facebook in the workplace.

“Instead of implementing draconian rules and penalties, public sector departments should encourage responsible use of social media that empower staff without putting the organisation’s credibility at risk.”

In response to the report on the dismissals, a DWP spokesperson said:

“The DWP has clear guidelines for staff on the use of the internet and social media. The vast majority of staff abide by these rules.

“For the small minority who don’t, we have strict disciplinary measures in place, ranging from a warning to dismissal.”