Like the rest of the world, many churches are turning to social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter to connect with people and promote outreaches and other church programs. And that’s what these tools were designed for—easy mass communication and media sharing. While this is a creative way to do business and connect with people inside and outside the church, using these social networks could cause some liability problems for your church if you do not set up the appropriate policies and monitoring procedures.
Public sites offer little security
The New York Times reported a case where jurors were mining information about the defendant online. After one juror confessed to this, the judge discovered eight of the other jurors were also looking the defendant up online. The judge declared the case a mistrial.
It’s easy to collect information on people these days. If your staff is going to talk about anything work-related on any webpage, that posting may create problems for your church, and, in some cases, a liability for your church. As a result, your church probably wants to avoid responsibility for everything they say. The best way to avoid liability for staff members’ postings to social media is to require them to agree that all postings will comply with the church’s terms and conditions for social networking by its staff members. In addition to there being little to no privacy on these sites, information spreads easily—social networking can be a breeding ground for rumors and gossip. This is just another reason why your staff should agree to a social networking policy that includes a disclaimer for your church.
This article is excerpted from the downloadable resource Using Social Media Safely.
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