Dictating online social media behaviour; how far is too far?

@boiboing (12879)
Northampton, England
April 25, 2016 6:52am CST
I volunteer for a well-known charity here in the UK but for reasons that will become apparent in this post, I won't be mentioning which one. I and a couple of dozen others help out on their online forums, spotting the newbies, directing them to the right groups or showing them where they can find the advice they want. My user name there is in no way connected to the names I use here or elsewhere online. I chose it to be different when I first signed up five and a half years ago because that particular part of my life is compartmentalised. Today we've been told that we have to sign up to the charity's policies regarding the use of social media. I can completely agree to taking care about getting to know people who might want to lean on us a bit too heavily if we were made to feel we should become 'facebook friends' with forum members, but a lot of us had already made many friendships before we took on the volunteering role. Of course we can accept that it's only fair that we shouldn't say anything negative about the organisation on social media - that just stands to reason. If we don't respect the charity, we should resign as volunteers. What most of us are not impressed at being told that we should behave in a way that's compatible with the beliefs of the organisation - to be non-racist, non-religious, non-political etc. We're all grown ups and we'd like to think that we know how to behave like adults without having to be told what to do. My personal gripe is that IF I wanted to post a photo of my butt with a religious symbol on one cheek and a political party's logo on the other, surely that's entirely my own affair and nothing to do with the charity. I have no intention to pull off anything so extreme but I don't intend to be prevented from expressing political opinions - especially in the run up to the most important decision my country will make in my lifetime (whether to remain in or leave the European Union). Similarly, if I want to express my support for the victims of rape (we have a particularly high profile case involving a soccer player and I'm a member of a group that campaigns for the rights of his victim) or to rage against the extremes of gender stereotyping in children's toys (another friend leads a group that does that), then as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to do that. It's going to be interesting to see where this goes. Even my employers wouldn't dare to tell me what I can do in my private time so I'm baffled that an organisation for whom I volunteer thinks it's OK.
11 people like this
9 responses
@Jessicalynnt (47879)
• Centralia, Missouri
25 Apr 16
if my facebook was public I'd have to be careful, IF I said who I was (use real name which I do not) and say where I worked, which I also do not. many biz seem to think they can police something like that. So I locked my facebook down, and refuse to tell anyone on it where I work some know, but it is never actually said
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
25 Apr 16
Me too - partly because of my husband's job, and partly because the world doesn't need to know what I think about everything.
1 person likes this
• Centralia, Missouri
26 Apr 16
@boiboing I still follow the, if I cant say it in front of my boss and my grandma, I better not say it at all when I am online
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
26 Apr 16
@Jessicalynnt That's a great policy. When my mum signed up for Facebook, my sister said I'd have to behave myself online. I told her if my mum doesn't know me by now, I'm not going to start pretending to be somebody else.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (141451)
• Bunbury, Australia
25 Apr 16
Some organisations seem to become very high-handed with their volunteers and start treating them like paid staff. Looking forward to the next episode.
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
25 Apr 16
I think that the admin who mentors us is a bit surprised how annoyed everybody is but is now going to tell the person who wrote the 'policy' that we don't like it and they should leave us alone. I feel quite well supported by that.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (141451)
• Bunbury, Australia
25 Apr 16
@boiboing That's good. The last thing they should want is to get on the wrong side of all their volunteers.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
25 Apr 16
@JudyEv I think what they want is to avoid that - for example - somebody who helps out in a charity shop slaps the charity logo onto Facebook as their avatar and then starts spouting offensive things about race / gender / politics that might reflect badly on the charity.
1 person likes this
@MALUSE (45881)
• Uzbekistan
25 Apr 16
If many members object, the admins may react and take that back, don't you think?
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
25 Apr 16
Yes, I already think they've been shocked by the reaction. Apparently we're too valuable to lose and the admins are going to tell them to stop annoying us with silly rules.
• Preston, England
25 Apr 16
the charity shouldn't dictate any beliefs or practices of no bearing on their services or fund raising needs
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
25 Apr 16
That's what I think too.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 16
That sounds like a good policy to chase away all the volunteers which surely isn't their intent.
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
25 Apr 16
No, I think we're not the volunteers that they had in mind when they came up with this policy.
1 person likes this
@miniam (9228)
• Bern, Switzerland
25 Apr 16
And i want to believe you are free to leave this charity after all they do not put food on the table do they?
@boiboing (12879)
• Northampton, England
25 Apr 16
No, not at all. We all volunteer for them. We don't get anything back in terms of money or other material things.
@celticeagle (121018)
• Boise, Idaho
25 Apr 16
It is a shame that there has to be such a situation. Some who are immature and idiotic make it difficulting and almost insulting in such situations because such people think they can do as they please.
@vandana7 (68992)
• India
25 Apr 16
That is wrong. They can't dictate. They can ask volunteers if they are willing to accept such behavior. If not, then they should not be allowed to be guides on social media. Other than that nothing.
@Poppylicious (10078)
25 Apr 16
If your online presence is quite private anyway it won't matter. But regardless, as they don't pay you for the services you provide they can't really dictate what you do and say in your online world.