Social networking and use of the internet

The speed of developments in social networking makes it impossible to design a hard-and-fast policy or guidelines in this area of the Church ;s activity. Facebook, Twitter and a host of other mobile messaging tools are widely used and accepted as essential for general communication.

In the Diocese of Ely, we ask those who are representing their church or the Diocese to be careful and considered in their approach to social networking and to uphold Christian principles and practice in their activities.
The use of social networking poses problems when it comes to the permeable barrier between the private and the public life. The sharing of photographs of family, personal celebrations, views on political or theological issues etc. are inappropriate in the context of professional ; (which includes both paid and voluntary) responsibilities in church work. If you are called to account for your communications with children or other vulnerable people, you will need to show that you have maintained the highest standards of care.

Always give due care and attention to the security settings and permissions that direct your social networking sites (e.g. your status page and use of private messaging or sharing pictures). Remember that even if you have very secure settings, those with whom you communicate may not. Think very carefully before posting information or responding to people with whom you have a professional relationship. As a general principle, use only public communications when you are working on behalf of the church and do NOT share personal information e.g. about your activities or beliefs, unless they are directly relevant to the work you are doing for the church.

When you are using social networking in your church role, do not respond to requests to join lists, become a friend, like ;, sign petitions, click to agree ;, share photographs or engage in any personal-based activity. Keep the boundary between private and public life clear. In social networking, as in conversation, it is important to watch what you say, where you say it, and to be aware of who might be listening. Church workers and volunteers should NOT be using their own mobile/smart phones, tablets, cameras or other devices. A church-owned phone/ computer etc should be provided for all communications with children, youth and adults who may be vulnerable. Your own device should only be used in an emergency or when a church-owned one is not available.
When an urgent, essential message has to be sent; perhaps to inform people about the cancellation of an activity; the parents or carers of the recipients must be copied in to the message. (Remember to get these details when you complete registration forms for church groups and activities).

Where computer or other Internet devices are provided for use in public areas or by multiple users, make sure that each regular user has a unique password, and logs off whenever s/he is out of sight of the device. A guest ; password can be used for one-off or very occasional users. It should be made very clear to all those using the Internet on a church-owned computer and/or in connection with work or activities on behalf of the church that viewing or downloading inappropriate images or material (e.g. pornography, incitement to violence, offensive or derogatory comments, extreme political views) is unacceptable and will lead to dismissal. Use appropriate filters and other measures to block access to inappropriate sites.