Using social media responsibly

Social media have become a way of life for many people. And like any way of life, social media are an opportunity and a danger. Social media can do good and can cause harm. Using social media well is a craft that needs to be learnt.

The Church of England has recently put forward ten guidelines for the good and positive use of social media. While designed for those using church social media accounts, they are simple guidelines that we would all be the better for following.

Be safe. The safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults must be maintained.

Be respectful. Do not post or share content that is sexually explicit, inflammatory, hateful, abusive, threatening or otherwise disrespectful.

Be kind. Treat others how you would wish to be treated and assume the best in people. If you have a criticism or critique to make, consider not just whether you would say it in person, but the tone you would use.

Be honest. Don’t mislead people about who you are.

Take responsibility. You are accountable for the things you do, say and write. Text and images shared can be public and permanent, even with privacy settings in place.

Be a good ambassador. Personal and professional life can easily become blurred online so think before you post.

Disagree well. Some conversations can be places of robust disagreement and it’s important we apply our values in the way we express them.

Credit others. Respect copyright and always credit where it is due. Be careful not to release sensitive or confidential information and always question the source of any content you are considering amplifying.

Follow the rules. Abide by the terms and conditions of the various social media platforms themselves.

It would take very little effort on the part of any of us to stick to these. But a huge amount of unhappiness could be avoided, if we did. Some people would not be permanently damaged. Even some lives would be saved.

Peter Atkinson

Dean of Worcester