Social Media Policy
Scope of Policy
Councils of Synod: Employees as defined in A Foreword - Workplace Policies & Procedures
Congregations are encouraged to adopt and adapt this policy for their work environments.
The Uniting Church SA is committed to ensuring that internal and external communication of both publications and commentary in the use of social media communications, are responsible, respectful and lawful.
Unless specified otherwise, this Policy applies regardless of where or when personnel post or communication information online. It applies to posting and online activity at work, home or other locations, while on duty and off duty, and regardless of whether personnel are using their own property or the property of Uniting Church SA. Uniting Church SA reserves the right to monitor and access any information or data that is created or stored using Uniting Church SA’s technology, equipment or electronic systems, including without limitation; emails, internet usage, hard drives and other stored, transmitted or received information. Personnel should have no expectation of privacy in any information or data, (i) placed on any Uniting Church SA computer or computer related system, or (ii) viewed, created, sent, received or stored on any Uniting Church computer or computer-related system, including, without limitation, electronic communications or internet usage.
It will be considered a breach of acceptable conduct to post on any public or private website or other forum, including but not limited to discussion lists, newsgroups, listservs, blogs, information sharing sites, social media sites, social or business networking sites (for example LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) or any other electronic or print communication format, if personnel are not adhering to the conditions outlined in this Policy.
For the purpose of this Policy ‘social media’ means any facility for online publication and commentary, including but without limitation; web pages, blogs, wikis, forums / online communities, social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Bebo, Myspace Friendster or any other social networking tools.
Purpose of Policy
Uniting Church SA understands that its personnel will participate in social networking sites, for example Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, chat rooms, and create and maintain personal websites, including blogs. Uniting Church SA respects personnel’s right to have an online social networking and personal internet presence, both using the Church’s on-line resources and their own. This online presence can have very positive outcomes for the Church. However the major purpose of this Policy is to make personnel aware that there can be a strong connection between their online presence and the Church’s activities, image and reputation because someone’s words, images, posts and comments whether made inside or outside the work environment can be attributed to Uniting Church SA by reflecting on the character, competence or performance of individuals or other Church interests.
Power of social media
Social media can be a very powerful and positive way for the Church to communicate. Social media presents a number of opportunities to engage with congregations and the wider community using this familiar and widely available communication option. This form of communication enables the Uniting Church SA to be more active in relationships with personnel, congregational members, volunteers, communities, partners and associated organisations, as well as increasing the frequency and speed of engaging with the public. So the use of social media is encouraged within the parameters set out in this policy.
However, social media cannot replace other forms of communication, but it can be useful as a range of communication options to engage and inform our key interest groups, for example with public relations activities, research initiatives, awareness raising campaigns and education activities. When using social media, it is very important to choose the most appropriate tool in order to achieve the intended purpose. Personnel of Uniting Church SA must be mindful when using electronic media, even when it is in personal time, to be responsible and respectful to others. (Refer to Uniting Church SA Social Media guidelines (under construction).
Overview of areas requiring particular care
Due to personnel online comments and postings having potential to impact on Uniting Church SA, Uniting Church SA has adopted this Policy that must be observed when participating in social media and other forms of internet use. Social Networking activities for private purposes should not take place during work hours.
Identifying yourself as personnel of Uniting Church SA through social media is not prohibited, and indeed transparency and honesty is encouraged. However, once you identify yourself as personnel with the Uniting Church SA, or if you are known to be personnel with the Uniting Church SA (regardless of whether you have identified yourself as that or not), any content that you post on-line may be related to Uniting Church SA (which includes any persons associated with Uniting Church SA). In fact you should be aware that even without a specific comment about your role within the Church it should usually be assumed that others may be aware of your role. You must ensure that any content associated with you is consistent with Uniting Church SA’s policies. This applies regardless of whether you are participating in social media inside or outside of working hours (unless specified otherwise), and whether you are using your own property or the property of Uniting Church SA.
Conditions of publishing or commenting via social media:
- That the reputation of the Uniting Church SA is not brought into disrepute.
- That no disparaging, discriminatory or harassing information is made , including but not restricted to any employee, clergy, volunteer, member or other person associated with Uniting Church SA.
- That no person is defamed, including but not restricted to; Ministers of the Word, employees, volunteers or any other representative of the Uniting Church SA within the respective Councils of the Church including Congregations.
- That media authorisation processes apply in relation to making any kind of statement or comment on behalf of the Uniting Church SA (please refer to Media Communications Policy (under development).
- That compliance is maintained with relevant legislation including copyright, privacy and anti-discrimination legislation.
- that information which is not in the public domain is not published (refer to Uniting Church SA Confidentiality Policy).
- that use of social media is in accordance with the Uniting Church SA’s Code of Conduct.
Personnel endorsing Uniting Church SAs services and activities, must disclose their relationship with Uniting Church SA (for example employment, volunteer etc), and must ensure that endorsements do not contain representations that are deceptive or cannot be substantiated. Personnel must clearly identify themselves when they are speaking about content related to the activities or services of the Uniting Church SA, or speak in the first person and issue a disclaimer to make it clear that the views expressed are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Uniting Church SA.
Personnel are requested to use the following principles as they undertake their online activities:
Developing a social media channel
All personnel, before engaging in work-related social media, must refer to the Uniting Church SAs Communications Department Social Media & Networking Guidelines (under development). This document outlines the steps to be taken including setting up of accounts, objectives and strategy for such activities.
Use of Disclaimers
As stated above unless you specifically want to ensure your comments are not associated with the Church (see below), you should assume that this association will be made. Therefore if you feel that there is a risk of potential misrepresentation of the Church or individuals or groups within the Church, you should declare in your post that the views are yours alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Church.
Protection of one’s own privacy
Personnel need to be mindful of posting information and commentary that they would not want the public to access. In all communications, use common sense in conjunction with the conditions of publishing as outlined in this Policy. One easy test of this principle is to consider whether personnel would be comfortable with their manager, co-workers or the executive team reading their commentary.
Protecting the privacy of others
When using social media, personnel must respect the privacy of all persons associated with Uniting Church SA. Personnel must not discuss others without their permission, and must ask permission before posting their picture. Social media should not be used for internal communications amongst fellow personnel.
It is perfectly acceptable for personnel to discuss their work and have a dialogue with various communities. However it is not acceptable to publish or disclose confidential information. Personnel must take care not to purposefully or inadvertently disclose any information that is confidential or proprietary to the Uniting Church SA. The privacy of representatives of Uniting Church SA, Councils of Synod, and boards need to be respected. If personnel are unsure about the confidentiality of information, they are to consult their Manager or the Communications Department before publishing on social media.
Personnel must also refer to the Uniting Church SA Confidentiality Policy and subsequent Agreement signed by them.
Respect for Audiences
Personnel are not to publish of disclose information or comment on any matters that contradict or are in conflict with the Uniting Church SA website or its policies.
Personnel are expected to use social media in a way that is respectful towards the Uniting Church SA and all persons associated with Uniting Church SA and its values. This includes not only matters that could be deemed discriminatory (for example those areas covered by Equal Employment Opportunity or Human Rights legislation and regulations) but also consideration of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory.
Respect Intellectual Property Laws
It is critical that personnel show respect and adhere to the laws governing intellectual property. This includes the Uniting Church SA’s own copyrights and branding. To avoid plagiarism, personnel must always reference or attribute written work to the original author and source. If you are unsure of the potential intellectual property risk, please consult your supervisor and the Communications Department before publishing on social media.
Writers (Personnel) identity
Do not blog anonymously, using pseudonyms or false screen names. Uniting Church SA believes in transparency and honesty. Personnel are to use real names, be clear who they are, and identify they work/volunteer for Uniting Church SA. Personnel are not to say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading. If personnel have a vested interest in something they are discussing, point it out. But they also need to be prudent about protecting themselves and their privacy. Publications will be around for a long time, therefore the content needs to be considered carefully and caution taken about disclosing personal details.
Personnel are responsible for maintaining the integrity of their system password. A system access is based on a username. Personnel will be held accountable for any social media attributed to their username. Personnel are not to use another person’s password without Uniting Church SA approval.
If personnel read misrepresentations made about the Uniting Church SA in the media and wish to bring to the attention of executives/management, they must do so respectfully, presenting the facts. If personnel speak about others, they need to ensure the information is factual and that it does not disparage other person(s). Arguments must be avoided at all times.
Personnel should also be aware that information for political purposes is likely to be seen as controversial to some readers of social media posts. Examples would include any information relating to elections, political parties, etc. Personnel should make it clear that this type of information is presented in their capacity as private citizens.
Whether personnel are operating within social media in a personal capacity by the specific use of disclaimers or in their Church role there are unlawful uses of social media that you need to be aware of including distribution of:
- Offensive material, including but not limited to, items of pornography or any inappropriate materials that have the potential to offend another person or group of people; examples of inappropriate material would include naked people or people involved in inappropriate acts that are likely to offend a reasonable person.
- Information with the potential to harass or cause harm to any other person. Examples would include discriminatory material in the form of comments, jokes, pictures or photos etc.
Personnel who violate this Uniting Church SA Social Media Policy may make themselves the subject of the range of industrial disciplinary processes available to Uniting Church SA.
Other related policies & procedures
- Uniting Church SA Media Communications Policy
- Uniting Church SA Handheld Information and Communication Device Policy
- Uniting Church SA Remote Internet Access Policy
- Uniting Church SA Computer, Internet and Email Use (Uniting Church SA Synod Intranet only)
- Uniting Church SA Information Technology Code of Ethics (only relevant to Uniting Church SA Synod IT&T employees and volunteers)
- Social Media Guidelines and Strategy (under construction)
- Uniting Church SA Code of Conduct Policy
- Uniting Church SA Confidentiality Policy
Signature: Executive Officer, Resources Board< Back to Workplace Policies