Social media has made the world a very transparent place. Your profile pages tell a truth about you that you may not want revealed in certain circles. Do you think about that before you post, like, or engage in conversation strings? In your Entered Apprentice Degree, the Worshipful Master clearly told you, “There you stand a just and upright Mason, and I give it you strictly in charge ever to walk and act as such.” Are you doing it? Do your words in lodge match your actions in society?
The use (and misuse) of social media is both a blessing and a curse to Freemasonry. On one hand, the increased media volume draws more attention to the fraternity, but negative or offensive media can give our organization a bad name, particularly with those having their first encounter with our members. We need to be careful. As Freemasons, we certainly don’t want to censor any form of free speech, but it is necessary to have some guidelines for how we interact on powerful media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
The Social Media Code of Conduct and Upcoming Social Media LOI
On May 1, 2012, the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts instituted a Social Media Code of Conduct. Since its password-protected, I won’t reproduce it here, but I will summarize it for you. Please pay careful attention to the following paragraphs. This article will be adapted later this year to become one of our online LOI make-ups.
Take a moment and think using common sense (I know, it hurts). You are a member of an organization which expects you to speak and behave in a certain manner. It is part of being a Freemason. We are not rude or uncouth. We don’t treat our fellow human beings with contempt or disdain. We also don’t need to use vulgar language or images to convey our ideas to others. If you don’t do it in lodge, you should not do it on social media. Stick to that rule and you’ll be in compliance with the code.
Social Media is Your New “Permanent Record”
Since we’re teaching social media marketing here at Hiram’s Edge, I suppose I should mention that anything you put out there online is permanent. It will not fully go away even if you delete it, so pause before you press that button. And just in case you think your rants and ravings will disappear with time, watch the video below:
My Friends Know that I am a Freemason
I often promote Masonic events on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages and most of my friends know that I am a Freemason. I have no qualms about that. This organization has done so much for me that I’m happy to shout my support for it from the rooftops. That being said, whatever I post on social media tends to be viewed as “Masonic” because being a Mason is so core to my identity. I need to allow prudence to regulate my actions agreeably to the dictates of reason.
Take the banner at the top of this article as an example. I am a big Joker fan, but I’m not going to spout his ideologies on social media. If I promote anarchism and chaos, folks will believe that those ideas come from Freemasonry. It may seem silly and extreme, but society views us as thought leaders, and many in society want to tear us down. Let’s not give them the ammunition to do that by being careless on Facebook.
A Brother’s Welfare as my own …
Another important point brought up in the Social Media Code of Conduct is the anonymity of our brethren. It is a man’s right to choose whether or not he should be known publicly as a Freemason. In some instances, it can cause severe distress or danger to a brother if his membership status comes to light. For that reason, you should never “tag” a brother and identify him on social media as a Mason without first obtaining permission from him.
The other piece of the Code of Conduct regarding brotherhood is what I like to call the “eyes and ears clause.” We are each other’s eyes and ears. If you see social media postings or images that are inappropriate it is your duty as a Mason to apprise the worthy brother about the dangers inherent in that type of behavior.
Social Media Marketing your Lodge
What I have outlined here are the Grand Lodge guidelines for proper behavior on social media. These rules are in place to help, not hurt your ability to do social media marketing for your lodge. The rest of the code can be broken down into one simple sentence, “If it happens behind a tiled door, don’t post it.” Photos, Mason-only events, ritual, Masonic secrets, all are off limits on social media.
Most of this is common sense (yes, there’s that pain in your head again). Please read the Social Media Code of Conduct for additional details. For more tips on how to properly use social media to market your lodge, watch the lesson below: