The Diocese recognises the evolution of social media as a tool for communication. Clergy, employees and volunteers who use social media in relation to their position or on behalf of the Diocese must ensure its use is consistent with these procedures and the Media and Communications Policy. This is to prevent negative media attention, breaches of confidentiality and inappropriate use, whilst also harnessing the befits of social media. Social media tools include blogs; weblogs; micro-blogs; wikis; social networking sites; podcasts; forums; newsgroups, listserv, chat rooms, discussion boards and message boards. Common tools include (but are not limited to): Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Youtube, Wikipedia, Linked-In, Bebo, Friendster, Flickr.
Appropriate use of social media
Social media is as important as any other communication channel. A message published on a website such as Twitter or Facebook has the potential to be as widely-read as a newspaper headline. The Diocese is are aware that many clergy, employees and volunteers have their own social media accounts and whilst these profiles are private, attention should be given to:
- Avoid entering into discussions, on social networking sites, that concern the Diocese. These comments can easily be picked up by search engines, and they could appear with your name beside them.
- Posted content must not bring the Diocese into disrepute and should not reveal or discuss commercially sensitive matters, confidential matters, matters which could cause harm or distress to another person, or be in breach of the Privacy Act.
- Ensure that you do not compromise your professional code of conduct and/or conditions of your contract of employment by discussing work-related issues, clients, colleagues, managers, the organisation or partner organisations on your social media profiles.
- The organisation has a responsibility to ensure that all employees feel that they are protected from bullying, harassment and discrimination. Employees are therefore reminded of the Code of Conduct whilst using social media.
- Only those officially designated by the Diocese have the authorisation to speak on behalf of the organisation. In all other instances you must make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the organisation.
- If you publish content on the internet that has something to do with the work you do or subjects associated with your workplace, use a disclaimer such as: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies or opinions of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland”.
Youth and Children
It is acknowledged that the use of social media is part of everyday life for children and youth. Therefore clergy and lay youth workers and leaders communicating with young people the use of social media is especially relevant. Because of their inherent vulnerability and consequently an increased potential for harm through inappropriate social media communication, specific procedures for its use with children and youth have been developed. Essential principles which shape the procedures include:
- Adults have more power than children and youth; and clergy and lay Church workers have more power than those to whom they minister
- All social media interactions with children and youth should be transparent and accessible by clergy and/or other youth leaders
- Social media interactions should be consistent with the general principles expressed in the Diocesan Policy and Procedures for the Protection of Children – Parishes
- Legal requirements – including Diocesan policies – apply equally to communications by social media as other forms of communication.
- Users are not permitted to share, distribute or post any photos of clients, staff or colleagues without their (or their guardians) permission. This includes photos of children taken at child care centres, schools or of any activity that relates to these.
- Within childcare centres, photos may be sent to families only with permission from the licensee / centre director. Photos must be appropriate and not breach confidentiality. Users must not take photos of children and download them onto their home computers. The childcare centre camera should be the only camera used for taking photos.
Social Media Etiquette
Contributing to collaborative activity on a social media site (or using social media tools) requires an awareness of etiquette. The following procedures must therefore be followed:
- Never disclose commercially sensitive or company information in your contributions. You should ensure that your postings conform to the organisational Code of Conduct.
- Ensure you are not infringing copyright rules
- When discussing the organisation or its business (if you are authorised to do so), always identify clearly who you are, what your role is, and publish in the first person. Use a disclaimer where appropriate (see next bullet point)
- If you publish content on the internet that has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with your workplace, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the ADoB’ positions, strategies or opinions”.
- You are personally responsible for content you publish into social media tools – be mindful that what you publish will be public for many years.
- Always be open and honest, but be mindful of the impact your contribution might make to people’s perceptions of the ADoB as an organisation. If you make a mistake in a contribution, be the first to come clean and admit it – honesty of this type quickly builds respect among other users
- Keep calm and don’t pick fights by escalating heated discussions. Be respectful and quote facts to lower the temperature and correct misrepresentations. Never contribute to a discussion if you are angry. Leave it, calm down, and return to it at a later date when you can contribute in a calm and rational manner.
- If you feel slightly uneasy about something you are about to publish, then chances are you shouldn’t do it. Remember, the information you publish will be visible to other web users for a long time. If in doubt, discuss it with your manager first.
- Don’t discuss competitors, customers, clients, partners or suppliers without their prior approval. Do not use organisational logos unless authorised to do so.
- Respect your audience. Show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory. Posts that are racist, discriminatory, inflammatory, defamatory, sexist, sexually explicit, obscene, abusive, threatening, offensive, vilifying, harassing or likely to cause offence are strictly prohibited.
- Avoid publishing your personal contact details where they can be accessed and used widely by people you did not intend to see them.
- Before your first contribution on any social media site, it is a good idea to observe the activity on the site for a while before launching in yourself to get a feel for the style of contributions, the nature of the content and any unwritten rules that other contributors might follow.
- Activity on social media tools during work hours should complement and/or support your role in the organisation.