Spiritual social media, where should religious institutions draw the line?

Is everything fair game for Facebook? Some people post every waking moment of their day on social media — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. But what about organizations, particularly religious organizations? Should every activity be fair game?

The dilemma occurs because religious organizations need to raise their presence in the community to increase membership and stay viable. However, many organizations would agree that it’s important to maintain the spirituality of their institution.

So it’s important that the leadership of the organization set forth guidelines that can be adhered to when designing a policy.

1. Where can pictures be taken?

While many religious organizations have begun broadcasting services, does that mean anyone can take pictures anywhere? Some individuals who come to worship may have volatile situations they are trying to escape. Broadcasting their image may not just be a violation of their right to privacy, but may actually put their life in danger.

If a religious organization chooses to allow photography and social media postings in the sanctuary, then signs should be posted notifying individuals that by entering, they are giving consent to have their image used on the organization’s social media site. Of course, that may cause people to feel uncomfortable and choose a different location for their worship.

2. Whose picture can be shared on social media?

Sharing images of children on the organization’s social media sites without the express consent of a parent or guardian can create a legal issue for religious organizations. Technically, when individuals are in a public setting, pictures can be taken without permission, but any time you post a photo of a child, it is important to get the parent’s consent.

Again, there may be an issue with the non-custodial parent that could be made worse by a posting a child’s picture on a social media site.

3. Who can post pictures?

Even if the organization does everything right, when an individual who is part of the organization posts photos directly on their personal sites, they are not covered by any release agreements the organization may have. Posting directly to a personal page leaves the individual open to legal concerns. Instead, all photos should be posted on the organization’s sites and shared to personal sites.

In today’s social media driven world, it is important to be cautious when posting for any organization, but religious organizations, in particular, need to ensure the rights of those coming to worship.

If you need help with your social media sites, email me at kparis@itsallgeek2me.org.

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