Internet & social media policy

NENE VALLEY CIRCUIT’S INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY AND GUIDELINES

 

Introduction

In today’s world, there are many ways of communicating with each other.  Increasingly, as individuals and as groups, we are using the internet and social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) to communicate with each other within and beyond the church community.

When we are known as Christians, all our communication – spoken, digital, verbal etc. – can be received as being ‘of the church’; in other words, at all times we have the opportunity and the responsibility to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world.  Therefore, however we communicate with each other and our communities, especially within a church context or on behalf of the church, we must be mindful of the message that our words and manner of communication give to others.

Policy and Guidelines

As its primary policy for Internet and Social Media usage, the Nene Valley Circuit adopts the Methodist Church in Britain’s Social Media Guidelines: Part 1 (see Appendix 1) for the Circuit, local churches and groups within the churches.

Other relevant and helpful documents:

  • Methodist Church in Britain – ‘Social Media Guidelines: Part 2’, 2010 Methodist Conference (available to download from www.methodist.org.uk/socialmediaguidelines)

  • Methodist Church in Britain – ‘With Integrity and Skill: Confidentiality in the Methodist Church’ (especially Section 12) (available to download from www.methodist.org.uk – Pages on Pastoral Care in the Ministers and Office Holders area)

  • Methodist Church in Britain – Safeguarding policies (www.methodist.org.uk/safeguarding)

 

Helpful guidelines

When you’re using social media on behalf of the church:

  • Remember at all times we have the opportunity and the responsibility to share the gospel – is what you’re sharing Good News?

  • Think before you type and hit ‘send/share/post’ – how might this be read, interpreted or affect those who read it?

  • Confidentiality – is this your story to share?Do not share news or prayer concerns about individuals without their permission.

  • Sharing a story – is it appropriate?How might it impact on others?

  • Safeguarding principles apply online!Only use social media to pass information to groups; only contact children and young people with their parents’ written permission.

  • Be safe – do not share personal information about yourself, e.g. address or telephone number, and rai  any concerns immediately.                                                               

Appendix 1 – Methodist Church of Britain ‘Social Media Guidelines: Part 1

(www.methodist.org.uk/socialmediaguidelines)

Introduction

  1. This applies as policy to lay employees of the Methodist Council. It is good practice guidance for Ministers and other office holders or those with a representative role within the Methodist Church.
  2. All new forms of communication provide opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in the world. They come, however, with new values. Whereas the printed word has a certain finality of declaration about it, social media is interactive, conversational and open-ended. Moreover, it happens in a public, not private, space. The Methodist Church therefore encourages the user to use social tools as a means of engaging in an interactive conversation with people of all faiths and none. As Gospel people, our conversation should be 'seasoned with salt' (Colossians 4:6), and these guidelines aim to help us to do so.
  3. The principles applied to this are:

a)  Be credible. Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent.

           b) Be consistent. Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation.

     c) Be cordial, honest and professional at all times. Be responsive. When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.

     d) Be integrated. Wherever possible, align online participation with other communications.

     e) Be a good representative of the Methodist Church. Remember that you are an ambassador for Christ, the Church and your part of it. Disclose your position as a member or officer of the Church, making it clear when speaking personally. Let Galatians 5:22-26 guide your behaviour.

     f) Be respectful: respect confidentiality. Respect the views of others even where you disagree. 

Policy

  1. You should participate online in the same way as you would with other public forums. You take responsibility for the things you do, say or write.
  2. Never share personal details like home address and phone numbers except with someone you know and trust, and if you decide to do so then use a private message. Be aware an address can be disclosed in many ways for example via photos or a GPS position as well as in written form.
  3. Always remember that participating online results in your comments being permanently available and open to being republished in other media. Once something is posted to a blog or other internet site, it should be assumed to be still available even if it is later deleted from the original site.
  4. Stay within the legal framework and be aware that safeguarding, libel, slander, copyright and data protection laws apply, as well as the Constitutional Practice and Discipline (CPD) of the Methodist Church.
  5. For general guidelines on confidentiality, refer to With Integrity and Skill - if telling a story about anyone, ask yourself Is this my story to tell?
  6. Be aware that this may attract media interest in you as an individual, so proceed with care whether you are participating in an official or a personal capacity. If you have any doubts, take advice, but remember that you are responsible for your online activities.
  7. Staff should be aware of and act in line with Speaking for the Methodist Church, the Team email policy and the Team policy on the use of IT equipment, as well as With Integrity and Skill and the whistle blowing policy where necessary.


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