Wednesday, June 15, 2011

UMC And Social Media

It has come to my attention that the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church may be requiring clergy and (possibly) those in the ordination process to sign a document promising to add a fake profile on Facebook and Myspace as a "friend" for the purpose of allowing their conduct on these sites to be monitored. They are also being required, as I understand it, to disclose any blogs or other websites that they own so that these can be monitored as well. The whole of the offending document can be found at and what follows is an excerpt:

I, ________________________, agree to allow the Kentucky Annual Conference to examine any and all MySpace, Facebook, or other blog and website accounts that I may have.  I have added the Kentucky Annual Conference as a friend on these sites.  If I do not have a MySpace, Facebook, or other website account at this time, if at any time I should create one of these accounts, I agree to add the Kentucky Annual Conference as a friend. I agree that access to any part of these accounts will not be blocked to the Kentucky Annual Conference. I understand that any information of a questionable nature on these sites that are written and/or posted by me, could affect my status as a Candidate/Resident in the Ordination process with the Kentucky Annual Conference.  Further, I also understand that my Barnabas Team will regularly check these sites for inappropriate content. I agree to and understand that material that would be deemed questionable in light of the Social Principles and Doctrinal Standards of the United Methodist Church or that would show lack of judgment in understanding the standards and ethics of a United Methodist clergyperson will be determined by the Board of Ordained Ministry and my assigned Barnabas Team.

I believe this is highly unethical and, frankly, quite offensive in addition to (probably) being against Facebook's Terms of Service. Specifically, the TOS states:

Registration and Account Security

Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

  1. You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
  2. You will not create more than one personal profile.

It appears that the account that was setup on Facebook at was done under the name "Kelly McDonald" and uses the email address There is also a user named "Kelly Bartlett McDonald that is "friends" with this account that, I am guessing, is the same Kelly McDonald" listed as the Administrative Assistant to Director of Ministerial Services at At the very least, the way that this Annual Conference has chosen to implement this invasion of privacy is against the rules set forth by Facebook. 

I think the whole idea of this is despicable and I reported them to Facebook and Myspace as violating the TOS. What do you think? 


Erin and Curt said...

I am at Rob's church. I also reported this as a fake site. I wish there was a way to actually write an email to them with further explanation.

Cindy said...
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