Social Media: Are you Talkin’ To Me? Part 1

Sources of Liability

Everyone is talking to everyone these days as social media usage explodes: Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are the key players. Churches are now in the game as well, hoping to connect members and reach out to the public. Not so obvious are the liability troubles awaiting an uninformed church. What are the potential problems?

First, regarding children, posting specific information about children, including photos, identifying information, and the like can make it easy for evil people to exploit them. If the church’s site facilitates these contacts, liability may follow if a child is harmed.

Second, posting and positioning information and photos on the site in certain ways can give rise to invasion of privacy claims. In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to publicize private affairs or such items as might bring embarrassment or offense or cause financial loss.

Third, copyright laws can easily be violated. This can result when copyrighted material is linked to or embedded in the church site. Violations could be as simple as linking to church directory pictures without the approval of the photographer who took them.

Fourth, defamation claims can arise. Not only is what you post on your site at issue, but if you allow others to post harmful information, such as by way of commentary, etc., your church could be liable. The idea being that you appear to condone the harmful content because you did not get rid of it. You must give specific, thoughtful and deliberate consideration to why you are doing what you are doing.

Read our next blog post where we discuss basic steps to protect your church. Contact the experienced attorneys at Trinity Law with your social media questions today at 717-843-8046. Our attorneys routinely represent churches in York, Lancaster, and the surrounding counties.