My good friend and blogger Adam Copeland has been talking a lot recently about pastors who use more than one Facebook profile. I will say that I have some friends who have decided to do this, and while I understand their reasons, it’s not the choice that I make, and not the choice I encourage others to make.
As someone who trains ministers and others on the use of social media at Social Media Boot Camps, I do not recommend that ministers use two separate Facebook accounts.
For one, if you do, you break Facebook Terms of Service (“You will not create more than one personal profile.”). However, I’m not one to generally be too concerned about specific fine print like that. So there are other reasons I encourage the use of one profile.
Also, I just don’t understand how people navigate having two profiles. Having to constantly sign in and sign out of different profiles, remembering which one you’re currently logged into, deciding who to accept as a friend on each specific profile…it all sounds like way more work than I’d want to put into Facebook. I spend enough time on Facebook for ministry, I don’t want to add to that amount of time having to organize two accounts.
For me, personally, it’s about transparency. If I have to create a separate, professional Facebook profile for people in my congregation, I feel like that isn’t being real or authentic. It doesn’t mean I don’t have boundaries, and it doesn’t mean that I post everything on Facebook (though, there isn’t much that I won’t share). But it does mean that people who are part of my congregation get to know the real me. The one who shares way too many photos of our cute baby boy. The one who constantly checks into restaurants, pubs and coffee shops around town. The one who posts controversial things politically and theologically. The one who wrestles through complex theological questions and ideas publicly on my blog.
But that’s who they hired. They knew about my blog, my online persona, and that’s who they wanted as their pastor. So why would I create a watered-down version of myself to share with them? Also, when I have posted particularly controversial things on my blog or Facebook in the past, I’ve often received some very positive feedback from folks.
That’s why I have only one Facebook profile. Because it’s playing by Facebook’s rules and I think it allows me to connect better with people I’m ministering with. But that doesn’t mean I don’t use Facebook’s tools, like Friend Lists. I think everyone needs to make much better use of Friend Lists. I have every single person I’m friends with on Facebook on one or more Friend Lists, especially everyone in my congregation. So when I want to post something that is really NSFCF (Not Safe For Church Folk), I can still do that using Friend Lists by omitting certain lists, or only posting to certain lists.
So that’s how I navigate the Facebook/ministry world. And I feel pretty strongly about it. But you know, if someone has very specific needs and reasons for having two profiles, that’s fine and I’m not going to second guess them.
What are your thoughts? Should ministers, teachers or other people have one or two Facebook profiles?