UK & World News

  • 22 January 2014, 23:50

Church Issues Nine Social Media Commandments

Church of England officials have drawn up nine social media commandments telling clergy and staff how to behave online.

Under the first rule, 'Don't rush in', tweeters are told to think about the following questions before posting messages online: Would I want God to read this? Would I want my mother to read this? Would I want this on the front page of a newspaper?

The guidelines, issued by the Bath and Wells diocese, explain: "Responding quickly doesn't mean doing so without due consideration."

The diocese also advises staff not to hide behind anonymous profiles and to always reveal their identity.

Under the safeguarding rule, online users are told to communicate messages to groups, rather than individuals or share them publicly.

The diocese explains: "The informality that social media encourages can mean that it might be harder to maintain a professional distance that is required when working with children, young people and the vulnerable."

Other rules stipulate that users must not overshare personal information, must keep confidential church matters private and be aware of the legal framework relating to sharing their thoughts with friends and followers.

Theologian and blogger Vicky Beeching praised the church's move to embrace the digital world and engage with the younger generation, but added that she was not a fan of "constrictive social media commandments".

She told Sky News: "The main problem is that they can be too cut and dry. These rules can create an air of micro-managing, which potentially robs social media of its creative freedom and throws the baby out with the bath water."

Specifically, she criticised the anonymity rule, saying, "This rules out all the good that anonymity can accomplish. If used well, anonymity can be a powerful tool.

"We see this with online political activists who, by not using their own identity, are able to fight for justice and speak boldly in a manner that otherwise would not be possible."

She also said the commandment 'Don't rush in' could "potentially curb the passion and energy behind many great tweets".

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