Advantages of Social Networking Systems
You can communicate to a large number of people in a public way.
You can update large numbers of people about your family and ministry using pictures, notes or videos.
You can create “groups” to communicate with, such as only supporters at one point or only family members.
Multiple security options are available, depending on the social networking site you use. On some sites, the user can change/modify the security options. For example, Facebook gives you the option of making your page available only to those people you have permitted to be your “friend.” The general public cannot access your information.
These systems provide fundraising options for events, projects or causes.
You can get RSS feeds or updates on friends, family members or causes automatically sent to your email inbox.
These systems are especially effective in communicating with the younger generation utilizing these sites.
Security Issues and Social Networking Systems
Each social networking system (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc.) has its own security policies, procedures and levels of security that you should be aware of before you create a profile or site.
It is up to the end user (you) to become informed about these sites’ security policies. Social Networking sites are not obligated to give you security information before you create a profile, but they are obligated to post it for you to find and read. For systems like Facebook, you have control over how much of your profile information is public for others to see. However, the initial default for many of these sites is for everyone to see everything about you. As a user, you must modify those security settings.
Consider the pictures, names, contact information and locations you post on your social networking site. Ask the following questions:
Am I putting anyone at risk on my site by mentioning their name or posting their picture?
Have I posted pictures of nationals or of my kids/family that I do not want people to view?
If I post my contact information, I am OK with anyone in the world contacting me?
Does anything on my site prevent me or my co-workers from acquiring a visa for the ministry they are called to do?
Does my profile connect any personnel in creative access areas to Free Methodist World Missions or to each other?
Do the activities I post or groups I create have any sensitive information in them?
Err on the cautious side when referencing other FMWM staff, ministry partners and/or nationals on your site. All FMWM staff should respect the rights and privacy of others who may not want their information public for anyone to access.
Helpful Links to Learn More
Compare advantages and disadvantages of prominent social networking sites: http://social-networking-websites-review.toptenreviews.com/.
If your kids are active users of social networking sites, this article is helpful to know how to protect your kids: http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/social-networking-sites.aspx.
Still unclear about what social networking is? Read the following article to understand the basics of social networking: http://www.whatissocialnetworking.com/.
Sites to facilitate your posts:
seemic.com – a desktop client to manage your lifestream from Facebook and multiple Twitter accounts. Create groups and searches and view them any way you like.
hootsuite.com – manage all of your Twitter profiles or organize your Twitter stream into friends, news, search terms, keyword tracking.
ping.fm – free service which allows you to update your social networks; you can post from anywhere to anywhere