Social Media Policy
Immanuel Lutheran Church
January 2, 2012
This Social Media Policy applies to all online or mobile-based tools for sharing content and discussing information, whether controlled by Immanuel Lutheran or hosted on other platforms (such as Facebook), on which members of the Immanuel Lutheran community engage in activities relating to Immanuel Lutheran Church. The term “social media” refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction through the use of words, images, video or audio tools. Examples include, but are not limited to, social websites, blogs, message boards, wikis, podcasts, image- and video-sharing sites, live webcasting and real-time web communities. Because this is a constantly evolving area, this policy applies to all new social media platforms whether or not they are specifically mentioned in this policy.
- Be selective – there are a variety of digital media available. Use the right medium for your message – a blog or social network might not be the right place for messages intended only for a small group, and email or other means might be best.
- Be responsible – social media are individual interactions, not official parish communications. Members of the Immanuel Lutheran community are personally responsible for their posts. Official statements of parish policy may only be made by the Pastor or his designee.
- Be smart – a blog or community post is visible to the entire world. Remember that what you write will be public, and potentially for a long time. Be respectful to our community.
- Identify yourself – authenticity and transparency are driving forces behind social media. Use real identities to the greatest extent possible rather than anonymous posts and comments.
- Respect the privacy of others – do not publish the personal information of others in the community without their permission or, in the case of minors, written permission of their parents.
- Be respectful – Immanuel Lutheran is a thoughtful and prayerful community that encourages free expression and values civil debate. If you disagree with others, do so with civility. Respect your audience, express your views with appropriate language, and be respectful of the Church and its teachings.
- Do not tell secrets – respect the confidentiality of matters that are shared with you in confidence, or that are meant to be kept confidential by the nature of your work, ministry or volunteer mission.
1. Use of Official Name and Logo.
Any use of the Immanuel Lutheran Church name for branding or titling pages, blogs, or other similar elements of social media must be approved in writing prior to use. Requests for prior consent to use such names or logos should be made to Pastor’s office. Any uses in existence at the time of adoption of this policy are not grandfathered and should be authorized pursuant to this policy. Permission to use the name of the parish may be revoked at any time in the sole discretion of Immanuel Lutheran. This policy, however, should fully preserve free expression. It should not, for example, be interpreted to limit the ability of members of the Immanuel Lutheran community from using the name of Immanuel Lutheran to identify themselves in profiles, discuss matters relating to Immanuel Lutheran, or other similar uses.
In areas where this policy does not provide a direct answer for how members of our community should answer social-media questions, members should use their best judgment and take the most thoughtful and prudent action possible, bearing in mind Immanuel Lutheran’s need to preserve accountability for the use of its name in all social media.
3. Duties of Moderators. Moderators of official Immanuel Lutheran social media are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy statement. All comment and response areas must be moderated. Those responsible should not post any comments that do not meet our standards for civility, misrepresent the position of the parish or the Church, or that include profanity, defamatory language or speech that is otherwise inappropriate or off-topic. Anonymous comments should not be permitted. All moderation functions should reserve the right to ban repeat offenders. Moderators who permit users to post materials such as documents or photographs should make clear to users that the site will not archive those materials.
4. Individual Judgment. Even when engaging in social media for personal use, the comments of a member of the Immanuel Lutheran community may be viewed as a reflection on Immanuel Lutheran. Users should use their best judgment when engaging in social media activities and should be on guard against actions and discussions that could harm the interests of our community.
5. Transparency. Users’ social media communications are made in their personal capacity and not on behalf of Immanuel Lutheran. Statements made by members of the Immanuel Lutheran community should not be taken as expressing the formal position of Immanuel Lutheran unless the speaker is specifically authorized to do so by the Pastor or the Pastor’s designee.
6. Copyright Laws.
Users must comply fully with copyright law when posting and uploading copyrighted materials. Any posting of materials to official Immanuel Lutheran social media must be limited to materials in which the copyright is owned by the party seeking to post the information. Images and other materials from the Immanuel Lutheran parish or school websites shall not be copied and uploaded to other forums without the prior written consent of the Communications Director. This policy should not be construed to limit discussion of matters using the Immanuel Lutheran name, and it should not be interpreted to limit users’ ability to link to Immanuel Lutheran sites.
7. Privacy. All users of social media within the Immanuel Lutheran community should take care to safeguard the privacy interests of other community members. In particular, personally identifiable information (that is, information that can identify a particular person, including name, phone number, address or email address) should not be disclosed without the prior written consent of the person identified. In cases where a user has consented to the publication of such information, appropriate privacy settings and levels should be utilized. Users of social media must comply with any Immanuel Lutheran privacy policies.
8. Minors. Social media maintained by Immanuel Lutheran are not intended for the use of children under the age of 13. Any site operated by Immanuel Lutheran that is oriented toward youth between the ages of 13 and 18 must require registration for all users and must be password-protected so that only registered users may access the site. Registration for such a site must require the use of a legal name and valid contact information, such as an operational email address. Users of such a site may not post images of minors without the prior written consent of a parent or legal guardian of any minor depicted.
9. If You See It, Say It. Any use of social media that does not comply with this policy should be brought to the attention of the Pastor immediately.
10. Questions and Updates. This policy was drafted by the Immanuel Lutheran Technology Committee in collaboration with the parish staff, and approved by the Pastor. Questions concerning the policy should be directed to the Pastor.
Thank you to the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington D.C. for sharing a policy that protects the church community and supports Christian values.