Social Networking (Family Safety)
Social networking refers to those sets of websites that are dedicated to keeping people in touch, meeting new people, and just generally networking with other real people. They are places on the Internet where like-minded people go to converse, share pictures, talk about what is going on in their lives, and just virtually “hang out.” Popular social networking sites include Facebook.com, MySpace.com, LinkedIn.com and Twitter.com. The activities that one can participate in on a social network site range from short updates regarding what someone is doing right now, to online chats, picture and video sharing, and even online resumes, workshops and job hunting.
The Church is making use of social networking to help spread the Gospel, to share testimonies, and to help strengthen families. The Church actively participates in social networking, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Sharing content on social networks is extremely easy, and social networks can be used to share content from Mormon Messages, LDS Newsroom, and LDS.org. Social networking can be easily leveraged to share testimonies or uplifting stories, and to help spread the Gospel.
Because social networks rely so heavily on trust, it is a target rich environment for con artists to find ways to steal our money or our identity, or to pose as us in order to steal those things from our online friends. Care must be taken to ensure that we connect only with people we actually know, and that the information we share on social networking is not too personal or confidential. Even though social networks are usually made up of networks of friends or acquaintances, anything we post on a social network can be duplicated, repeated, re-posted or otherwise spread beyond our network.
Advice from Church leaders
- Elder M. Russell Ballard taught: "Social networks on the Web can be used to expand healthy friendships as easily as they can be used by predators trying to trap the unwary. That is no different from how people choose to use television or movies or even a library. Satan is always quick to exploit the negative power of new inventions, to spoil and degrade, and to neutralize any effect for good."
Tips & suggestions
- Parents should consider setting up an account for yourself, and become “friends” with your children. This allows for periodic reviews of children's pages.
- Review family members pages often – make sure they aren’t posting too much personal information, inappropriate images or having inappropriate contact with people they don’t know.
- Ensure that very personal data is not revealed on social networks – things like birth dates, home address, social security numbers, account numbers, etc., could be very dangerous to share.
- Care should be taken with regard to images posted on social networking sites. Be sure children are not posting inappropriate images, or pictures of your home or street, or their school. Anything that can be used to identify them in the “real world” could be used by a predator to track them down.
- Check the security and privacy settings on social networking sites to ensure that only friends can see images and posts. This usually keeps them out of sight of online predators.
- Review children's “friends” list with them regularly. Make sure they actually know the person in real life. Ask them how they know this friend, and where they met them. Instruct them not to connect with “friends” that they met online, and NEVER to meet anyone in person that they only know from online interactions.
- Most importantly, your social network page should reflect who you are in "real life." Share your testimony, share your love of the Gospel, share your likes and dislikes - but don't share personal information.
- M. Russell Ballard, Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet, Ensign, Jul 2008, 58–63