Additionally, some common social media situations in ministry can potentially expose a church to liability—and it is important to know how to respond. The following list is not exhaustive, but it can offer guidance in regard to several specific scenarios.
- Reposting copyrighted materials. A church can easily find itself in a situation in which it has committed copyright infringement. When posting on a social media page or a website, church leaders should remember that any material—outside of content directly created by the person drafting the post or article—must be duly credited, and permission for use must be duly obtained. Authorized use can be obtained via payment for a licensing fee or by expressed consent from the original creator of the work. Obtaining permission for use also applies to photographs and even digital images. Reposting verbatim, without the need for payment or consent of the copyright holder, is only allowed under what copyright law deems as “fair use,” which is when material is used for a specific purpose, such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, or research.
- Prayer requests and sensitive information. The publication of a person’s prayer request should not be done without that individual’s express consent. The invasion of privacy that results otherwise is a huge point of liability for the church. Also note the sensitive nature of posting images and videos of congregants, especially children.