Monday, May 14, 2012

Masonic Rules for Social Media?



The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has created guidelines for its members concerning postings on social media like Facebook and Twitter. While this is an attempt to interject common sense into the postings of Masons (which we know isn't common at all), I'm not certain I am crazy about codifying such rules. In any case, here they are for your perusal.
Social Media Code of Conduct for Massachusetts Freemasons

  • A Mason should conduct his Social Media activities in a way that reflects his membership in the Craft.
  • He should act in a way that presents a positive image of his membership in Freemasonry to the world.
  • As a Mason, he must be aware that his postings are a permanent record; therefore, his conduct may
  • influence the world with a positive or a negative opinion about him personally and also about any organizations to which he belongs.
  • His actions on the various Social Media outlets should reflect the highest standards of morality and integrity he would practice within the Lodge.
  • To ensure our fraternity represents itself to the high standards we believe in, we must regulate our actions through Brother-to-Brother intervention. As a Mason, you should advise a Brother if you feel that what he has posted is improper within the framework of our Grand Constitutions, rules, regulations, and edicts.
  • Do not identify any Freemason as a member of the Craft unless he has provided his consent, or has already identified himself as such.
  • Lodge notices, and information contained within Lodge notices beyond the time and place of meeting, should not be discussed.
  • There should never be discussion related to the application, background or investigation of an applicant.
  • There should never be discussion regarding the ballot of an applicant.
  • There should never be discussion related to the business of a Lodge and what is discussed within our tyled doors.
  • The posting of pictures or videos of Lodge events must comply with the Grand Constitutions, rules, regulations, and edicts.
  • Information about Lodge or District social activities must comply with the regulations already in place for Lodge Notices (for example, no reference to alcohol or games of chance).
  • The posting of social activities of a Lodge or District should comply with the regulation standards already in place for the distribution of Lodge Notices and inserts.
  • No official communication with other Grand Lodges or their subordinate Lodges may take place online. Contact must be conducted through the Office of the Grand Secretary.

16 comments:

Frank Kautz said...

I know what you mean about being unsure as to whether or not it should have been done. I am not a great fan of them, but the Grand Lodge has decided and it is what it is. I don't see much of anything that I will be changing in my social media postings, but I am still uneasy about the precedent it sets.

Fraternally,

Frank Kautz

Rufus said...

Any chance you can change the color of the background or font?

M. Smith said...

For the most part I agree with the GLMA. The same care should be taken online as you would any other time in your travels.
Discretion for your fellow Brethren and keeping with the highest order of conduct should never be an issue, but we all have our moments of weakness and I think that the GLMA is just trying to head off any possible issues in the future.

M

Luke says Moo! said...

The first 6 points (though I think it's 5 points but 6 bullets) are moronic. The remaining ones that actually remind for specific violations that are already on the books make good sense as a reminder. Specific violations and specific consequences are already laid out for a Brother in the book of law. (I've had to remind a Brother about not putting EA applicant names in public.)

The first 6 points get on my nerves. What I consider "morality and integrity" is very different from many others. I have no issues using expletives but have had people suggest that it's immoral or of lesser integrity. And what's a "positive image?" And by what measure do we determine that something isn't positive?

And just because I can: in the world of instant communication the GL office should be on its toes when I want to officially communicate with another jurisdiction.

John said...

"There should never be discussion related to the business of a Lodge and what is discussed within our tyled doors."

Because that is so super secret exciting that the mere mention would cause the profane to burst into flames. Or would it just bore them to tears? I am positive that the point, or at least I hope, is to remind us to not reveal our ritual. I am pretty sure we cover that in several other places in every book of rules in every jurisdiction.

rich said...

I've seen a whole lot of Brothers who post a lot about masonry and a lot of their bigoted or otherwise hateful and demeaning views of other people. I've seen many that contradict our religious tolerance.

This isn't rare.

Unfortunately I think some of us encourage that activity in forums or at dinners.

When done in public, I think it demeans the fraternity.

E C Ballard ஃ said...

I wonder, did the GL of Connecticut establish rules of Masonic conduct for using the telephone when the telephone was new? No? Well, what has changed then? If these rules are common sense (whatever that is) then what need is there to reiterate them? Personally, I suspect the GL is just feeling as if it doesn't have enough control. Or maybe they just are spending too much time on Facebook between Treasurer reports...

Jim Smith said...

They had rules like this for everyone when I lived in China. Of course, they also opened my mail which was very convenient.

Jim Smith said...

Bro.: Jim Smith
Palatine, IL

J Jones said...

M. Smith hit the nail on the head!

I agree wholeheartedly with the GLMA. Its sad that some choose to use Facebook and other social media outlets as the Primary means of communicating with others.

I don't understand why my fellow brethren would on one hand show the world (via the Internet) that they're a Mason and then in another picture of posting show themselves at a function getting inebriated.....with so many negative things out there already in regards to how the fraternity is viewed the last thing we need are for those ignorant few to add more fuel to the fire.

The Grand Lodge of MA is doing something that shouldn't have to be done, but for the sake of our fraternity it Must be done!

rich said...

Bro. Ballard,
I've moderated a lot of forums over the years.

I finally had to explain to people - as I expelled them - that a public forum was like a public park. If you act up in a public park, neighbors will walk you out.

A telephone isn't like a public park. A forum is. A social network is.

I don't think they passed anything about email, which is closer to the telephone.

I have a hard time recommending good men when I see what those at the wets gate are posting in public...

Frank Kautz said...

Bro. Jim Smith,

I may not be the most supportive of this code, but it is a very, very far stretch from China. This code is a set of guidelines for those who may need them. It is not an edict of the Grand Lodge. Note the word "should" is used throughout rather than the word "must." The places where "must" is used are places where we have been using it for decades, if not centuries already in the "real" world (as opposed to cyber-space).

Unfortunately, some of us need guidelines like this, particularly those who are new to the Craft. It gives them ideas of what they should and should not do. It also calls on other brothers to let them know there is a problem (I just wish it had included the words, "in private") so that they can make the change.

Fraternally,

Frank

Wayfaring Man said...

Well said, Rich. Your comments about a public forum are absolutely on point. The Grand Lodges are easy targets on many issues, but I agree with GL MA on this one.

Al M. said...

I'm with some of you in that I don't care to be told what to do in my personal life. The distinction I draw here is if your identity on your posting is so closely tied to Masonry that it becomes a "Mason" posting rather than just you then it would be closer to the way we should act anytime we are in the public as "Masons" We obviously are a very diverse Fraternity coming from varied backgrounds and the craft would suffer it that ever changed. Politics and Religion have long been subjects to avoid in lodge and as "Masons" for good reason.

We should keep in mind that when we make Masonry a large part of our public persona, rightly or wrongly, what we do reflects on the fraternity and our brothers.

However, what we personally post in our own names is none of anyone else s business.

Al M.

RooferJim said...

As a Massachusetts mason I understand the reasoning and good intention behind this. However, I do feel we must be careful as well not to come off as " police state style" masonry either. There are some that mistake progress for more rules and bureaucracy. However a good brotherly reminder about common sense and proper decorum is sometimes in order, it just must be handled in a tactful and brotherly way. Thats what makes us different.

Brother Jim Bennette

ppfuchs- Peter P. Fuchs said...

It has seemed to me for a while now that that the unspoken decorum or protocol was simply to NOT bring up Masonry in reference to one's own personal or political views. Perhaps it could be argued that given the interlocking nature of media this is not always easy to do, since many have their affiliation online in some way. For sometimes the technology makes the connection for you, unbeknownst . But I think the point would be to have that protocol as a general guide and an intent which others can observe in some way.

This would tell the world that we think the Masonic ideal is something special, and NOT just one of the axes we might enjoy grinding for whatever reason. This protocol would seem based also in the fact that there is a diversity of views in Freemasonry from quite conservative to quite liberal, and that therefore no one has the right to define it categorically. At the same time there is an ethos of tolerance at the heart of the Craft which is unique and important to the Craft's very identity. So this ethos should both protect the right of Brothers to express themselves personally, as along as, again, they are not delimiting a necessary correspondence between their own view and the Craft.

But the ethos should also naturally result in a caution, for practically speaking being tolerant means ultimately not being a bull-in-a -china -shop in delivering conceptual ultimatums and leaving no room for the view of others. Still, it would seem that this same tolerance should express itself in some way, as a matter of principled stance. How this can be done, without creating those same limiting correspondences, is perhaps ultimately more an art than a moral science. Still, in general I would be happy if Brothers did not publicly mix the Craft with politics -- even politics I agree with! What would be lost with that is the more radical position of tolerance, and Brotherly compassion, even for people with views we don't like very much or don't understand. Meeting on the level is not just a matter for the Lodge. It can be seen as an existential position of respectful reserve towards others in serious life arenas, and to the context by which we interact-- namely the Craft itself.

A whole separate question would seem to be the relation of individual Masons to what seems to be the predominating tomfoolery and unseriousness of much of particular zones of the internet. To try to control that essential party- atmosphere too much would make Masonic Brothers seem like the most crashing bores imaginable. And that would definitely not be good for our rep.

In sum, let me quote the words of a very successful man with whom I interacted professionally in the past: "You almost never get into trouble for what you don't say." Words to the wise. Those words have helped me a lot in life!