The Church of England has published social media advice aimed at tackling offensive behaviour and misleading content and encouraging a positive atmosphere for online conversations.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, unveiled the Church’s first ever social media guidelines at Facebook today. The guidelines encourage positive engagement across all national social media accounts run by the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York.
At the same time the Church is urging Christians and others to sign up to a voluntary digital charter aimed at fostering a more positive atmosphere online.
As part of a live Q&A at Facebook UK’s Headquarters, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, launched the digital charter and guidelines and encouraged Christians and others to sign up to it.
The charter is centred on the five principles of: truth, kindness, welcome, inspiration and togetherness, and the opportunity for people to sign-up to show they support the principles.
It is hoped that people of all faiths and none will use the charter to consider how their own online interactions can affect others, both for good and bad.
Archbishop Justin Welby said:
“Social media has transformed the way we live our lives. As Christians we are called to engage in a way which is shaped by the example of Jesus.
“As we respond to the call on each of us to be witnesses to Jesus Christ, I encourage all of us to consider how we live our lives as witnesses online.
“Each time we interact online we have the opportunity either to add to currents of cynicism and abuse or to choose instead to share light and grace.
“My prayer is that through these guidelines and charter we can encourage regular and not-so-regular churchgoers, sceptics and those who are surprised to find themselves interested, to be open to think and experience more of the Christian faith.”
The charter and guidelines also have the backing of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who said:
“While there is a time and a place for complaint and criticism, too often today this takes place not to encourage improvement but to vilify an individual or group. Sometimes it’s about counting to 10 and asking whether a spiteful statement on social media will change a situation for the better.
“Today, we are saying that the Church wishes to be present in the digital sphere, and the same force for social cohesion which it strives to be in the real world, and we want to work alongside social media companies in their work to make social media a safe and enlightening space for all.”