When carefully used, the Internet can help coordinate the work of the Church, strengthen faith, and minister to the needs of others. The Internet can also help with missionary work as people connect with friends and family and share Church content. However, electronic communication should not replace face-to-face contact.
The following content provides guidelines, examples, and additional help for applying the principles found in Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 21.1.22.
Remember the following as you plan to use a website, blog, or social media resource for your calling:
- Local priesthood leaders must first approve the creation of calling-related websites, blogs, or social media profiles.
- The Church logo may not be used or imitated.
- The name and contact information of the member who is responsible for the website, blog, or social media profile should be posted publicly.
- Members should not state or imply that their online resource’s content, images, or other materials are sponsored or endorsed by the Church or officially represent the Church in any way. Rather, the online resource should include a disclaimer stating that it is not an official, Church-sponsored product.
- Church-owned artwork, videos, music, or other materials should not be posted unless such use is clearly authorized by the Rights and Use Information page of an official Church website or by the Church’s Intellectual Property Office. For copyrighted content from other sources, members must first obtain written permission from the content owner.
- Other people’s personal information must never be displayed. Images or videos of other people should not be displayed unless the individuals have given written consent. (See “Additional Resources” at the end of this page for an example of a permissions form.)
- Social media properties must be properly maintained and actively moderated to ensure that any inappropriate content is promptly removed. Having more than one moderator or owner will help ensure active monitoring and timely moderation.
- Members should have a purpose and goal for the resource, such as community outreach, increased friendship between members, and so on, and the resource should be named accordingly. The website, blog, or social media profile should not simply be the name of a Church unit or individual. For example, “First Ward News” and “Friends of the First Ward” are acceptable names, but “First Ward” and “Bishop Davis” are not.
- Websites, blogs, and social media profiles should not duplicate tools and features that are already available on LDS.org.
Examples of Appropriate Uses
The following are some examples of appropriate uses of websites, blogs, or social media profiles to assist members with their callings:
- A bishop hopes to increase community awareness of ward activities.
- The bishop assigns a member of the ward council to create a public social media page to promote upcoming ward activities that would be of interest especially to new members, less-active members, and the general community. The ward council member maintains the page under the guidance of a bishopric member and includes announcements and invitations to ward activities. The name of the page is “Riverview 1st Ward Events.”
- A ward Relief Society presidency hopes to increase friendship and participation in activities.
- After receiving permission from the bishop, the ward Relief Society presidency creates a blog that will include news, uplifting messages, lesson schedules, and photos from recent activities. Since this blog is public, they never include personal information, and they take care to post photos only of those individuals who have given them permission to do so.
- A stake public affairs specialist hopes to help members and people in the community participate in a Mormon Helping Hands service project.
- After receiving permission from her stake presidency, the specialist creates a Facebook group called “Jackson City Helping Hands.” She uses ward bulletins and the stake public affairs council to invite members to join the group; she also encourages all to invite their neighbors and friends.
- Before the service project, she uses the group to share inspiring messages and details about the project, including where to meet and what equipment to bring. After the service project, she thanks all for participating, posts photos of the service project (showing only those people who have given permission), and alerts the group to any additional opportunities to serve. As this group is open to anyone who would like to participate, she is especially careful to actively moderate comments; she also posts several times a week in anticipation of upcoming events.
- A mission president wants to provide updates to family members of currently serving missionaries and to maintain contact with former missionaries.
- A mission president and his wife create a blog where they post news, updates, and photos of their mission (all with permission from any individuals shown). They also share stories and experiences from mission events, such as a zone conference. They never include confidential information, such as statistics, addresses, or other personal contact information.
- An elders quorum president needs to have regular contact with his quorum members, many who have limited Internet access.
- After receiving permission from his bishop, the quorum president decides to use a mobile messaging app (such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or Kik) to communicate with his quorum. After determining which of these services is most convenient for his quorum members—and receiving their permission to communicate with them on this platform—he creates a private list of those who would like to receive these messages. He understands that this is just one method of communicating with his quorum members and always follows up on important items by making phone calls or visiting in person. He never shares this group information with anyone else and quickly adds or removes anyone from the group who requests it.
- A Laurel class president wants to increase participation in Mutual activities.
- Knowing that her class members are active Twitter users, a Laurel class president counsels with her priesthood and Young Women leaders and decides to use that social network to send reminders to class members about upcoming activities. She takes care to share only general information in public tweets and saves the details of event times and locations for direct messages. When she is participating in an event, she posts limited updates to her Twitter account at appropriate times and is careful to share only images of those youth whose parents have granted permission.
- A ward mission leader desires to increase member participation in missionary work.
- After a discussion in ward council about the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, the ward mission leader is assigned by the bishop to help ward members become aware of and share the social media postings of Church leaders with their nonmember friends. The ward mission leader asks the ward council members to begin regularly sharing the Brethren’s Facebook and Twitter messages. A special assignment is given to the Young Women and Young Men presidents to invite the youth of the ward to do likewise.
Examples of Inappropriate Uses
The following are some examples of inappropriate uses:
- A ward blog called “Riverview 1st Ward” highlights the birthdays of people in the ward each week.
- Reason: The name of the online resource should not be that of any Church unit, and the resource should never include personal information, such as birthdays.
- In addition to his personal account, a bishop creates a separate social media profile for “Bishop Young.”
- Reason: A profile should never be named after or promote a specific individual.
- A stake creates a website with a calendar of all upcoming meetings, activities, and events.
- Reason: Websites, blogs, and social media profiles should not duplicate tools that are already available on LDS.org.
Websites, blogs, and social media pages should be appropriately moderated. Content, including visitor comments, should be reviewed for appropriateness at least once each week. Moderators should ask themselves the following questions:
- Does the content or post reflect dignity and reverence for the Church?
- Is the content accurate and credible?
- Have I received written consent to publish any and all images, videos, and music?
- Are personal political views being represented in the content? (If so, the content should be deleted.)
- Are any business interests being promoted? (If so, the content should be deleted.)
- What would the First Presidency think of the site or post?
Additional Best Practices
- A website, blog, or social media page should never be used as a replacement for the printed sacrament meeting program or bulletin board.
- Social media profiles, pages, and groups can be either public (open to everyone) or private (only accessible to those who have been invited to participate by a moderator). There are benefits and drawbacks to both options. When setting up a new page, group, or profile, prayerfully consider the benefits of being either public or private.
- Do not rely solely on the Internet to meet the communication needs in your ward or branch. Internet and technology access may be limited in many Church units. Even if members have access to the Internet, they may choose not to use it.
- Prepare all online content with your audience in mind. Content that is appropriate for local news reporters may not meet the needs of the active members in your ward or branch. Focus on the content that is relevant for the intended audience.
- Online resources should always have more than one administrator because callings change frequently and it is difficult for the same person to monitor a site or page every week.
- Retire the online resource when it is no longer needed, but make sure to preserve important media (such as photos and videos) in the local history of your Church unit.