Theological and Ethical Implications of Social Media


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Produced for the 2010 Spring Conference of the Massachusetts Bay District. The video to accompany this slideshow is available at

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Theological and Ethical Implications of Social Media

  1. 1. Theological and Ethical Implications of Social Media Mini-Keynote III by Shelby Meyerhoff for Massachusetts Bay District Spring Conference May 1, 2010
  2. 2. Questions <ul><li>How can we make an online community as safe as possible? </li></ul><ul><li>How can individuals (esp. religious professionals) use social media in a way that improves relationships (rather than harming)? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we be inclusive online? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we use social media in a way that is spiritually nourishing? </li></ul>
  3. 3. How can we make an online community as safe as possible?
  4. 4. Administrative access and security <ul><li>Shared administrative access to the congregation’s social media presence. </li></ul><ul><li>Congregation’s social media presence belongs to the congregation as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>Secure (non-guessable) passwords. </li></ul><ul><li>Back up content. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Identification <ul><li>Identification of community members may be safer than anonymity. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Confidentiality <ul><li>Treat social media as a completely public space. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t count on 100% security even for “private” groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Ok to react to disclosure of concerning personal information by others. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Clear expectations for online community <ul><li>Covenant or social media policy for content posted on social media  build on best “real world” practices, congregational covenant. </li></ul><ul><li>Content moderation policies. </li></ul><ul><li>Enforce policies! </li></ul><ul><li>Model through personal engagement. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Sample content moderation policy <ul><li>[Congregation name] has the right to delete any inappropriate content from this page, including but not limited to: irrelevant content, hateful content, attacks against an individual, financial solicitations, endorsements of a political candidate or party, and content that violates Facebook’s terms of use, code of conduct, or other policies. Content that violates Facebook’s policies may also be reported. </li></ul>
  9. 9. How can individuals use social media to improve relationships?
  10. 10. Relationship Building <ul><li>Your best self. </li></ul><ul><li>Consistent and clear policies to “friending.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Real world” ethical principles still apply. </li></ul><ul><li>Some conversations need to happen face-to-face. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge (about privacy settings) is power. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Ten Commandments of Social Networking by Erik Resly <ul><li>1. Thou shalt not post personal information, opinions or media that compromise your ministerial integrity or the wellbeing of others. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Thou shalt not speak pejoratively of, or mention conflicts with, family members, friends or congregants. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Thou shalt not use language inappropriate for fellowship hour. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Thou shalt not disclose intimate information that would make readers feel uncomfortable. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Thou shalt not substitute electronic communication for face-to-face interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Thou shalt exercise discretion and maintain professional boundaries. </li></ul><ul><li>7. Thou shalt uphold offline confidentiality practices. </li></ul><ul><li>8. Thou shalt regularly update and maintain your online presence. </li></ul><ul><li>9. Thou shalt be honest and authentic without over-sharing. </li></ul><ul><li>10. Thou shalt enjoy the benefits and playfulness of social networking. </li></ul>
  12. 12. How do we make our online community inclusive?
  13. 13. Welcoming participants <ul><li>Promote the congregation’s social media presence in other congregational materials </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t make assumptions about who can and can’t use social media </li></ul><ul><li>Offer to orient congregants unfamiliar with social media </li></ul>
  14. 14. How do we use social media in a way that is spiritually nourishing?
  15. 15. Process Social media engagement Evaluation of social media experience Development of and commitment to mission/purpose
  16. 16. <ul><li>“ I started the blog when I started a sabbatical as a way to keep in touch with the congregation. I’ve come to feel it is an important part of my ministry.” – James Ford </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  17. 17. <ul><li>Our thoughts, insights, and musings may open doors for other Unitarian Universalists to know that our denomination is open enough to hold our spiritual selves. I personally write because it helps me make sense of this crazy life we all lead. It seems that what I write helps others make sense too.” – Tina Simson </li></ul>
  18. 18. Credits <ul><li>Icons in this presentation come from: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>