The digital landscape has developed so much in the last few years alongside technology, meaning it’s more important than ever to consider how we approach social media. Whether you are a member of the Clergy using twitter, or a church goer replying to comments on a Facebook page, everyone has different interests and ideas, which will affect how people respond to different events online.
Because of this, The Church of England and its Archbishops have created a set of community guidelines to encourage online conversations that reflect the values of The Church. These guidelines apply to all content posted on national social media accounts ran by The Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York.
Although the guidelines are specifically written for users who engage with the Church of England and archbishop’s social media, they’re built on universal principals. Dioceses and local churches are welcomed and encouraged to take the voluntary pledge.
In adopting these guidelines, you agree to:
• BE SAFE- the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults must be maintained.
• BE RESPECTFUL- Do not post or share content that is sexually explicit, inflammatory, hateful, abusive threatening or discriminatory.
• BE KIND- treat others as you wish to be treated and always assume the best in people.
• BE HONEST- don’t mislead people about who you are.
• TAKE RESPONSIBILITY- you’re accountable for the things you do, say and write. Things shared can be public and permanent.
• BE A GOOD AMBASSADOR- personal and professional life can easily become blurred online, so think before you post.
• DISAGREE WELL – some conversations can be places of robust disagreement and it’s important that we apply our values in the same way we express them.
• CREDIT OTHERS- respect copyright and always give credit where due. Be careful not to release sensitive or confidential information and always question the source of any content you’re considering sharing.
• FOLLOW THE RULES – abide by the terms and conditions of the social media platforms themselves. If you see anything that breaks their policies, then be sure to report it to the respective company.
The Church and Archbishops’ communications team, may take action if they come across inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive material or if they receive a complaint. This may lead to deleting comments, blocking users or reporting comments.
Director of communications, Stuart Haynes, stated, “I think they’re solid and promote good conversations and don’t allow for abusive or unreasonable conversations in turn. I am already signed up, so has the communications team and the Bishop.”
There are a number of ways we can make the digital word as loving and generous as we would when speaking face-to-face:
• Truth – we should always check that what we post online is fair and factual.
• Kindness – differences in people can make the world interesting and at times challenging. Look for the best in people, whether they share our views or not and aim to be constructive.
• Welcome – it’s easy for Christians to use language that those outside the church may not relate to.
• Inspiration – we are called to be witnesses of our faith and to use social media in a way that engages others in a positive way.
• Togetherness – we are one church and it’s crucial that we treat those around us in this way.
Stuart also stated, “It’s creating a movement for better conversations online and I feel people, especially over the last few years, have found places like twitter and Facebook as a safe place to shout and try to shout the loudest. I can’t change how others behave, but by encouraging those who interact with the church to also take the pledge, we start a movement of being better online.”