Q&A: Posting Personal Information on the Web

What concerns should our church have about posting personal information online?

I am in charge of developing materials for our church website and sending it to our web master for posting. What legal protections should be considered when posting information about an event or activity that has personal contact information (phone number, email address, blog, etc.)? Should this be avoided? How does the church protect itself against unlawful response to the personal contact information? Are there concerns if the church is on Facebook? What protections should be taken if links to other websites are used?

Due to the public nature of the Internet, we recommend that churches refrain from posting personal contact information on the church website. In the event that you have a specific event that you are advertising, I recommend having inquiries be directed to the church office. The church office can then disseminate the information to the pertinent individuals.

Many churches and ministries regularly use social networking sites, such as Facebook, in their ministry efforts. While this sort of technology is a relevant and effective method of communication, your organization should be aware of the inherent legal, ethical and moral implications that are tied to this type of media. Specifically, you should be aware that:

(a) Public Forum: The internet and social media tools are a public and not a private forum. This means that anything posted online is available, regardless of privacy settings used or efforts to delete the content. And, for the most part, any postings or statements made in this setting are available to be viewed for a long period of time, perhaps indefinitely.

(b) Confidentiality: As an employee of the church, you will be privy to and receive information that is confidential in nature. You must use caution not to intentionally or inadvertently discuss, transmit, divulge or reproduce in any form confidential information. This includes the publication of private prayer requests.

(c) Intellectual Property: The church must make sure not to post logos, materials, trademarks, copyrights or other creative works that do not belong to the church.

(d) Devotion of Time: Time devoted to social media for ministry related purposes should be reasonable and should create value for your ministry.

While it is true that there are a number of risks with using a social media site, there are also a lot of benefits. I recommend that all churches and ministries adopt a “social media policy” that addresses these issues.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay