The Twitter Commandments: Church issues social media rules

The Church of England has issued a list of nine guidelines to its clergy on how best to use social media to spread the word of God.

The diocese of Bath and Wells drew up the "good practice guidelines" to help its clergy, office-holders and staff act as better ambassadors for their parish, acknowledging the "value of social media as an important missional tool".

The first rule issued is to not "rush in", urging those wishing to post content to take time before doing so.

The guidelines ask social media users to consider: "Would I want my mum to read this? Would I want God to read this?"

Social media users are also encouraged to not hide behind online aliases and to stay within the legal framework to avoid libel, defamation and copyright infringement. Furthermore, they are warned against blurring the line between their public and private lives.

"There are risks associated with personal opinions being seen as public statements, a minister's private life being invaded and the difficulties of detaching from work," it states. "Consider setting up different accounts for ministry and personal use to help set definite boundaries."

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The diocese claimed that an increasing number of its members were turning to social media in order to engage with the local community and this was the reason behind issuing the guidelines.

"The Church of England is in every community in the UK, so it seems right that we should be in online communities too," a spokesperson for Bath and Wells diocese told the BBC.

"We're not the first diocese to provide guidelines, but our clergy increasingly use social media. A vicar might engage in conversation online in the same way that they do in the street, post office or pub."

For a complete list of all our Twitter guides check out our guide to using Twitter effectively.