Social Networking and Ministry
Social networking has revolutionized the way people communicate and share information with one another. The term social networking includes, but is not confined to the use of blogs/wikis, message boards/forums, FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and other posting technologies such as YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, etc. The guidelines serve to assist employees of the Diocese of Richmond with the use of social networking:
- When establishing a social network account it is recommended it be set up in the name of the church, ministry, or school and independent of any one persons personal social networking account. In addition the logon information for that account should be documented and kept on file.
- Before launching any social networking project, it is expected that the pastor/principal/office director approve the project, evaluate its appropriateness in ministry and determine who will develop and who will oversee its use.
- In order to be inclusive and fully transparent, locations utilizing social networking media are expected to inform all interested parties of this new form of communication. This can be accomplished via a bulletin, newsletter, website, etc.
- Any information reflected on a social network page for the parish/school/ministry should also be reflected on the parish/school website, so that the information is accessible in both areas.
- No pictures/images/videos/logos should be tagged or linked without permission. Pictures of individuals should have the written permission of the individual.
- Pictures of minors should always have the written permission of parents/guardians and should never include names or other personal information about the individual. Pictures of minors are not to be tagged as this could direct individuals away from the parish/school/ministry site and to the personal page of an individual.
- The administrator/owner should monitor conversations, wall postings, images and the behavior of members of the group and challenge, educate, intervene and/or delete as necessary.
- No employee should initiate the friending of a minor. Minors must make the initial request.
- It is recommended that employees use caution when friending others. Employees accept responsibility when accepting an individual on a ministerial page.
- Employees are expected to write knowledgeably, accurately, and use appropriate professionalism. Employees should communicate using their official location related email address.
- Employees are not to provide a link or otherwise refer to the Diocesan website on their personal website, social networks or weblogs.
- While the Diocese respects the rights of employees regarding their personal life outside of business hours, the following recommendations are provided:
- All employees who have personal social networking accounts should maintain boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
- In the event that you identify yourself as an employee of the Diocese on a personal website, weblog, or social network, it is recommended that the following notice be placed in a prominent place on your site: The views expressed on this website/weblog/social network are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.
- If you serve in a leadership role in the Diocese, consider whether it is appropriate to be a friend on a social networking page of a parent, student, parishioner or other individual who interacts with you only through this leadership role. It is recommended that individuals not friend minors that are known primarily through a Diocesan relationship.