It’s an exciting time to be part of the BSA for many reasons. One of those is that new communication vehicles now enable current and past Scouts and Scouters, as well those who are interested in participating or are just interested in Scouting in general, to communicate directly with each other about Scouting.
Online social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have made it possible for virtually anyone with an Internet connection to create and be part of online communities where people can discuss Scouting and share stories, photos, videos, and other types of media.
Although using social media is not a Scouting activity, their use to connect with others interested in Scouting can be a very positive experience. But the creation and maintenance of these channels requires forethought, care, and responsibility. For that reason, the Boy Scouts of America has developed the following guidelines to help you navigate the use of social media channels. These guidelines are a complement to the BSA’s existing Youth Protection policies and training.
Facebook considerations for use:
Facebook is a great way to form online communities where groups of people can gather to have conversations and share information. Indeed, the BSA National Council as well as many local Councils and countless units use Facebook to communicate about Scouting. Of course, creating and maintaining a Facebook page for your unit is a big responsibility and should not be entered into lightly.
It may be valuable to think of a Facebook page as a little like a troop meeting that is always open, always going on, and where members of the public may drop by and watch or participate at any time of day or night. That means Scouts and Scouters can be even more involved in sharing the fun and excitement of Scouting and be a more active part of the group discussion-even when they’re at home. ( But it’s also easy to see how, if left unstructured or unattended by Scout leaders, this never-ending meeting could easily become a problem.
When considering whether or not Facebook might be a good option for your unit, it is important to remember that Facebook requires all users to be at least 13 years of age .
When creating a unit Facebook page, you must make it a public fan page.In addition, you should designate at least two administrators who have access to the login, password, and page management/monitoring information.
This conforms to the two-deep leadership policies of the BSA. These page administrators should be registered volunteers who have completed Youth Protection training and that training is current and unexpired. All Youth Protection policies that govern the use of email are applicable to the use of the messaging capabilities of Facebook.
Facebook fan pages are open to the public, which means any information shared on that fan page can be viewed by essentially anyone. As such, you should make sure that any information shared on that page by you or by your fans is information that is appropriate to share with the public. This is especially true regarding the level of detail you provide regarding Scouts and their activities.
Once you have created a Facebook fan page, invited people to “like” your page and started gathering “fans,” it is important for you to post good and appropriate content and monitor the content that is posted to your wall.
Unfortunately, not all the content posted to the wall by your fans may be appropriate. All content posted by you or by fans on the Facebook wall should conform to the precepts of the Scout Oath and Law. Content that does not meet that standard should be removed immediately.
If a user posts highly offensive content, the content should be removed immediately, and you may need to block or ban the user who posted it.Such an action should not be used liberally but only when content is truly objectionable.
This type of careful monitoring requires vigilance. Before creating a unit Facebook page, you should consider whether you or someone else who will administer the page will be able to monitor that page and post content consistently to help ensure that only appropriate content is posted. Pages without vigilant consistent monitoring can become a target for spammers or other predatory parties who recognize that you appear not to be actively involved on your page.
As with any online site, it is highly important that you do not give out personal information about Scouts or Scouters to anyone on Facebook .Every effort should be made to help ensure that your fans and those Scouts and Scouters that use the Facebook page are protected.
Keeping Scouts safe and keeping their private information safe should be the primary concern in any endeavor involving them – whether that’s keeping them safe on a camping trip or keeping them safe on the unit Facebook fan page.