Reporters banned from reposting non-company tweets and told to check with the news desk before breaking news stories
Sky News has told its journalists not to repost information from any Twitter users who are not an employee of the broadcaster.
An email to staff on Tuesday laid out new social media guidelines for Sky News employees, including a contentious ban on retweeting rival "journalists or people on Twitter".
The new guidelines also warn Sky News journalists to "stick to your own beat" and not to tweet about non-work subjects from their professional accounts.
Sky News has cultivated a reputation for digital innovation and has used Twitter to break news on events including the Arab Spring uprising and England riots. Journalists at the broadcaster expressed shock and dismay at the new guidelines, which they claim are a retrograde step.
The email to staff, which has been seen by MediaGuardian, said: "So, to reiterate, don't tweet when it is not a story to which you have been assigned or a beat which you work.
"Where a story has been Tweeted by a Sky News journalist who is assigned to the story it is fine, desirable in fact, that it is retweeted by other Sky News staff.
"Do not retweet information posted by other journalists or people on Twitter.
Such information could be wrong and has not been through the Sky News editorial process."
The email says that the guidelines have been introduced "to ensure that our journalism is joined up across platforms, there is sufficient editorial control of stories reported by Sky News journalists and that the news desks remain the central hub for information going out on all our stories".
The email said: "1. Don't tweet when it's someone else [sic] story. Stick to your own beat. 2. Always pass breaking news lines to the news desk before posting them on social media networks."
It added that "on a number of occasions" those guidelines have been flouted "resulting in us running different information on Twitter other Sky platforms or the news desks learning from Twitter details that should have been first passed on to them".
The guidelines on checking tweets with Sky News news desk do not apply to "verbatim reporting" on Twitter of court cases, parliament or judicial inquiries "to which you have been assigned".
A Sky News spokeswoman said: "Sky News has the same editorial procedures across all their platforms including social media to ensure the news we report is accurate."