Senior civil servants will be taught how to use social networking websites by “digital pioneers” from the junior ranks, the Commons has been told.
Junior Cabinet Office minister, Tom Watson, MP for West Browmich East MP, said younger civil servants would be able to “enlighten” senior counterparts on how to engage with online communities such as Facebook and Bebo.
His remarks came during question time as he announced that civil servants have been issued with new guidelines on using social networking.
The move followed an independent report published last year.
But Mr Watson said the “next challenge” was to develop more detailed guidelines “to encourage civil servants to take the first steps to engage with online social networks”.
Labour’s David Anderson (Blaydon) said the department needed civil servants who “aren’t just technically aware but also culturally aware about the needs of young people who use this medium more and more”.
Mr Watson replied: “There is an incredibly large number of young people, digital pioneers across the civil service who perhaps are junior in status and one of my jobs is to try and join them all up so they can perhaps enlighten their counterparts in more senior positions”.
Tory Peter Bone (Wellingborough) asked whether the new guidelines covered sending sensitive material to ministers.
“There won’t be any top secret documents placed on Facebook,” Mr Watson replied.
Susan Kramer, for Liberal Democrats, sought assurances that the guidelines would not “kneecap whistle-blowing”.