Friendly Advice

(cross-posted on jlearn2.0). A few posts ago, we wrote about personal and organizational “friending” policies on social networks like Facebook.

Many thanks to Shayna Kreisler, BBYO’s Director, Education and Teen Initiatives, and her colleagues for their willingness to share their organization’s social networking policy. BBYO is a provider of identity-building and leadership development programs for Jewish teens with over 80 years of experience, serving communities, alum, staff, and volunteers worldwide.

BBYO’s policy for staff and volunteers on social networking sites, internal to BBYO and external:

Staff/Volunteer Presence on Social Networking Sites

The bullets below provide guidelines for professional staff, advisors, summer staff, and volunteers coexisting with BBYO participants on social networking sites (b-linked, Facebook, MySpace, Blogger,

  • BBYO professionals, advisors, summer staff and volunteers are not prohibited from appropriately communicating with teens via general instant messenger programs.
  • BBYO professionals, advisors, summer staff and volunteers shall refrain from any proactive one-on- one communications with teens on social networking sites. They may accept invitations to profiles, groups, and events, but may not initiate any type of communication with teens. Responses to teen-initiated communications should be limited to those that are BBYO-related. Public one-on-one communications (i.e. posting a comment to a wall) are discouraged at all times.
  • Mass (one-to-many) communication from these sites is not prohibited provided that the content is appropriate and BBYO-related. However, since BBYO is a youth-led organization, staff should utilize teen leaders to broadcast virtual messages to teen online communities before issuing any type of information online (message board posts, group messages) themselves.
  • BBYO professionals, advisors, summer staff and volunteers must recognize that they are role models for Jewish teens at all times, and should limit their public profile to information, comments, photos, etc. that are appropriate should a teen or parent view them.
  • BBYO professionals, advisors, summer staff and volunteers agree to be respectful of BBYO, its teens and its policies in all postings in profiles, blogs and other mediums of Internet communications.
  • BBYO professionals, advisors, summer staff and volunteers agree not to use a social networking profile, group page, blog, or other Internet medium to discuss behavior that is prohibited by BBYO policy or the Code of Conduct, including, but not limited to, alcohol or drug use, sexual behavior, delinquent behavior, etc.
  • All official BBYO and BBYO program related correspondence must be initiated via email or through the BBYO dashboard.
  • Official BBYO program websites must be maintained on and, however teens may (and are encouraged to) use non-BBYO sites to market and promote their programs. All non-BBYO site publicity should push other teens back to to register for the program. BBYO staff may neither initiate non-BBYO website program promotions nor use the non-BBYO site for post-event follow up.
  • Should a professional, advisor, summer staff or volunteer choose to maintain a virtual presence and see something on a teen’s profile that is immoral and/or illegal, it is the responsibility of the adult to notify their field services supervisor. The supervisor will provide guidance on any next steps (to possibly include notifying the online community, the teen’s parents, appropriate state agency, and/or law enforcement). Representatives of BBYO have a legal and moral obligation to protect BBYO teens and acts of omission, in this case, are considered far more detrimental than acts of commission.

Note how their online policy is consistent with BBYO’s teen leadership values and culture in general and social networking strategies. For example, teens are encouraged to share and market programs and events that are meaningful to them on other sites where they reside and have influence.

On a related topic, check out Beth Kanter’s recent blog posts. Beth writes from another perspective, looking at managing digital identities on social networks here and social networking strategies for organizations here.

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