Social media: Church of England unveils online guidelines

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Children on mobile phones

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One of the Church’s social media principles is to ensure the safety of children online

The Church of England has published social media guidelines to help tackle online abuse and misleading content.

Social media helps to “share the good news of Jesus Christ” but also has “downsides”, the guidelines say.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will unveil the new rules for online accounts run by the Church in a visit to Facebook’s UK headquarters later.

Justin Welby will also urge Christians to sign up to a digital charter to help foster a “positive atmosphere” online.

The charter centres on five principles of truth, kindness, welcome, inspiration and togetherness, the Church said, while the social media guidelines include principles such as ensuring the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults, and being respectful, kind and honest.

People who post inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive content on national social media accounts run by the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York may be reported or blocked, the guidelines say.

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The Most Reverend Justin Welby spoke of combating the “cynicism and abuse” in the online world

“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,” Mr Welby said.

“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,” he added.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, gave his backing to the charter and guidelines.

He said the announcement shows the Church’s wish “to be present in the digital sphere” while helping to make social media “a safe and enlightening space for all”.

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