Does Your Church Facebook Have a Social Media Etiquette Guide?

October 17, 2019  •   LPi

Hands using social media on phones

The internet, and social media in particular, can often be equated to the Wild West. It’s vast, oftentimes lawless, and even with the best of intentions, anything can happen. That’s why it’s important to prepare for the unexpected with a social media etiquette guide on your social media platform pages. Following are some great examples for you to check out and to help inspire your own.

The point of having a list of guidelines isn’t because you’ll be scouring social media every day looking for “rule breakers” or trying to get people in trouble. No, the benefit of having a guide in place of what’s acceptable and what isn’t is that you can then point to it when someone posts something unacceptable.

Even though you’d think bad language, name calling and personal attacks might be common rule breakers, it needs to be plainly stated. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has an exhaustive list of what is not allowed to be posted or commented on, including these two thought-provoking call-outs:

This page and all affiliated pages are designed to inform everyone about interesting topics and events in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and globally throughout the Catholic Church. You may even consider visiting these pages an extension of visiting a Church function. Therefore, before posting, ask yourself “would I stand up in Church and make this statement?”
Moderators will delete off-topic posts and comments that include slanderous or abusive name-calling and/or malign official Catholic organizations/teaching.

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas goes into even more detail of what is not allowed on the pages:

  • Contain spam, advertising, solicitations or include links to other sites;
  • Are clearly off topic and/or disruptive;
  • Are obscene, vulgar, or sexually explicit. This includes masked words (***), acronyms, and abbreviations;
  • Are chain letters, pyramid schemes, or fraudulent or deceptive messages;
  • Promote particular services, products, or political organizations or campaigns;

It’s also important to note that the comments expressed on a social media page are not directed by a particular employee of the diocese, or from the diocese itself (unless specifically expressed):

Please note that the comments expressed on this site do not necessarily reflect the opinions and position of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas or its employees.

Inc.com has some great suggestions for coming up with a social media guideline for your own religious organization, including reminding employees that they need to identify themselves as employees when commenting by using a disclaimer. The disclaimer should be something like “the views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of (your parish’s name).”

The social media policy of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., adds the various platforms of what they consider social media to be:

The term “social media” refers to social networking services, blogs, short-message services, message boards, wikis, podcasts, image- and video-sharing sites, and other methods for real-time information sharing among users. Because this is a constantly evolving area, this policy applies to all new social media platforms whether or not they are specifically mentioned in this policy.

Finally, remind people what the platform is meant to be: a place to inform, inspire, and engage within the community and a place to ask respectful questions and come up with thoughtful answers.

Does your church have a social media etiquette guide?

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