BBC staff are in open revolt after being told to stop “virtue signalling” on social media.

Moments after director-general Tim Davie unveiled guidelines on impartiality Beeb rebels started challenging them.

Some claimed wearing a poppy could even constitute a breach.

Stars such as Match Of The Day host Gary Lineker frequently post their political views on Twitter.

BBC News At Ten’s Huw Edwards quoted the guidance: “Use of emojis can – accidentally, or deliberately – undercut an impartial post,” and surrounded the message with emojis of Welsh flags.

And James Wong, a Gardeners’ World contributor vowed to ignore the rules. “‘Virtue signalling’ isn’t an objective concept,” he said.

Director-general Tim Davie

“I wonder what accounts sending me tweets about how presenters should be banned from ‘virtue signalling’, would feel if I didn’t wear a poppy.”

Neil Henderson, an editor on the BBC’s newsdesk, tweeted: "Virtue signalling. Well I’m proud to be sacked for any opposition I may express to racism and hate."

BBC News correspondent Sangita Myska replied: "I’ve just liked’ your tweet. Am I in trouble now?"

And presenter Nihal Arthanayake, who works for BBC Radio 5 Live, tweeted: "Looks like I won’t be calling racists rude words anymore.’’

Huw Edwards
Huw poked fun using emojis

The guidance tells staff in news or current affairs to avoid giving their views on controversial subjects.

They must “avoid ‘virtue signalling’ retweets, likes or joining online campaigns to indicate a personal view”.

Others may need to avoid taking sides on politics because of their high profiles.

Former England striker Lineker has tweeted about everything from the migrant crisis to Marcus Rashford’s child food poverty campaign.

BBC stars like Lineker frequently post their political views on Twitter

In an interview published hours before the rules were announced Lineker said he was careful with his tweeting and had never endorsed any political party.

But he was unrepentant about being a vocal Remainer and advocate for refugees.

Mr Davie wants to rebut accusations the BBC is not impartial.

He contacted staff to assure them there was no ban on attending Pride parades as they are “celebratory”.