The Church of Ireland has produced a set of guidelines for using social media and digital communications which seek to foster healthy and active online engagement while helping to manage risks and prevent misuse. All involved in the life of the Church are encouraged to use them. Social media offers a wide opportunity for groups and individuals to engage creatively and positively with others. It is a key contemporary way in which we can share stories about parish and diocesan life, the Church and the Christian faith as a whole. At the same time, the nature of social media means that it is important to think about how to use it well.
In particular, the newly published guidelines advise exercising courtesy and responsibility at all times. The guidelines invite users to remember that they are the face of the Church and to ask the following questions of themselves when posting a comment or image on social media:
• Would this breach a confidence?
• Would I want this on the front page of a newspaper?
• Would I want my family and friends to read this?
• If it concerns a disagreement, have I tried to resolve it privately first?
• Would I (in the case of clergy and lay readers/leaders in Church) say this from the pulpit or in general to members of my congregation either individually or collectively?
• Is what I’m writing reflective of a Christ-like compassion, even if challenge is present?
The guidelines also provide useful pointers to wider good practice and to safeguarding issues and the Safeguarding Trust policies.
The social media and digital communications guidelines have been developed by the Church of Ireland Press Office and the Central Communications Board and were approved by the Standing Committee of the General Synod at its September 2017 meeting. They are available at: www.ireland.anglican.org/policy