High Court judgement - implications for all owners of social media accounts
A High Court of Australia judgement (Fairfax vs Voller) in September has implications for all organisations that use social media. A majority of justices (5–2) ruled that the owners of social media accounts can be considered 'publishers' and are thereby potentially liable for defamatory and other illegal comments on their accounts. This applies even if the comments were made by a third party and even if the organisation did not know the comments were there.
Pending further consultation and advice, the LCANZ Churchwide and District offices have implemented measures to minimise the risk on their own accounts, and we are urging all congregations and other agencies of the church to introduce similar measures. You are welcome to adapt the LCANZ social media procedures to your own needs – click here. More details will follow in due course. In the meantime, you are invited to contact LCA Communications or your District office for advice.
Policies, procedures and guidelines
Online communication (including social media, targeted emails and online meetings) have changed the way the world communicates. It's the way entire generations communicate and we're excited to be able to use this wonderful media in God's service. It can be a tricky, even dangerous, place to navigate though, which is why we've developed this resource page. We're updating it regularly, so please come back here often. We also value your feedback, so feel free to contact us via the email address or phone number at the bottom of this page.
LCA Churchwide social media
The Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) Churchwide Office uses these social media to help us communicate with you and the people in your world and to help you engage with us.
On our LCA social media sites we hope you will find encouragement, inspiration and refreshment. We also want you to feel safe among our Lutheran community of members and friends. To achieve this, only our LCA Communications staff can make posts. You are able to comment on most posts but please abide by the aims of our social media sites; that is, to be encouraging, affirming and supportive and to build each other up in the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).
Our social media sites are not the places to discuss or debate issues before our church. You will find other places where you can do that. They are also not the places to engage in one-to-one sparring; if you want to have a private conversation with someone, you will need to do that via another method or forum.
All comments you make on LCA social media sites must comply with the LCA Social Media Policy and with the LCA Standards of Ethical Behaviour, which are based on Colossians 3:2-4: Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
We do not knowingly allow comments from fake or multiple profiles, so we might ask you to confirm that your profile details are indeed your own. If you cannot do that to our satisfaction, we will ban you from our page.
We will hide or delete comments that we deem do not comply with our standards. We will allow two hidden or deleted comments per person; after that, we will ban you from the page.
We will not enter into any conversation or correspondence about hidden or deleted comments or about our reasons for banning people from our sites.
Everyone is welcome to join us, but we expect that you will respect and care for everyone else with whom you share our social media sites.
Thank you for understanding that we need to apply these standards in order to keep people safe on our social media sites, where we want to see God’s love coming to life in what we share and how we treat each other.
Your social media
Navigating the world of social media is tricky. Most people know by now that you never, ever, put anything on social media (even on your private or closed-group page) that you wouldn't want the world to see. You also know how easily you can harm the name of the Lutheran Church (and worse, the name of Jesus) if you post inappropriate material on social media. But there are also other things to consider:
- Does your congregation need a social media presence?
- If so, who will be responsible for the content?
- How do you keep your people, especially children, safe on social media?
- How can you guard against inappropriate content being posted?
To give you some guidance, LCA Communications keeps abreast of changes in legislation around social media, and is constantly researching the best practice on social media. We have a Social Media Policy, which is relevant to all agencies, including congregations, of the LCANZ. As you prepare procedures and guidelines for your own agency or congregation, you might find the Churchwide procedures helpful. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you need some more guidance.