Social Media Policies

While the essential messages have remained constant, the channels through which St. Paul’s communicates have changed radically in recent years. In addition to the spoken word and printed materials, email, social media channels and online scheduling applications have become integral and essential to St. Paul’s communications. The church embraces their value as powerful, cost-efficient tools for helping staff and lay volunteers fulfill the mission and ministries of the church. As with power tools of any kind, however, knowledge and skill are required to use them properly, and precautions must be taken to avoid mishaps.

All General Communications Policies apply to Internet and social media channels.

With or without approval of the person(s) involved, St. Paul’s does not render pastoral care or publish private, confidential information about individual parishioners, staff members, or employees through any web site, public social media channel, or other public forum. Prayer requests are handled according to established policy, through the church office.

The parish web site contains hyperlinks only to non-commercial web sites. St. Paul’s will not link to other web sites containing political content.

St. Paul’s disclaims any association with or responsibility for uncontrollable content displayed on third-party web sites, such as Facebook and YouTube.

Only permanent staff members may create new social media sites, pages or groups on behalf of St. Paul’s.

Any existing site, page or group set up on behalf of the church, using the church name, must include the Communications Director as an administrator and must be set to require administrator approval of posts. Ideally, the founding administrator will relinquish administrative rights to existing pages and allow the Communications Director to reinstate him or her so that the page can be fully controlled by the church. Otherwise, the page cannot be deleted in the event the founding administrator abandons the page, is the victim of hacking or is locked out of his or her account, or if he or she becomes disgruntled with the church.

Staff members and parishioners who set up accounts on behalf of the church for the purpose of using online tools such as Sign-Up Genius to schedule volunteers are asked to provide a user name and password to the Communications Director in case access to the account is needed.

Parishioners are encouraged to participate in social media on the St. Paul’s pages, sharing photographs and announcements related to church-sponsored events, and diocesan and Episcopal Church news. All posts are subject to prior administrative approval.

The Communications Director may decline to publish a post considered off-topic, inappropriate or in violation of the church policies.

When tagging or identifying people in photographs, parishioners should identify only themselves. Minor children should not be identified.

Comment and blog response areas are moderated regularly by page administrators. Inappropriate content may be taken down by the Communications Director or any page administrator. Users who post or attempt to post inappropriate content may be banned or blocked.

Parishioners may act as administrators of pages to support programs and ministries of the church, provided they are familiar with and agree to follow the church’s social media policies.

Administrators should screen group membership requests to confirm the prospective member appears to be a “real person” and not a potential spammer. Spam accounts usually show no friends, few if any posts and memberships in multiple groups.

Individual clergy and staff members are responsible for administering their personal social media accounts, including content posted on their profile pages and friendships and connections they maintain. It is recommended that clergy and staff monitor their profile pages regularly and delete postings they feel are inappropriate.