Internet - Social Media

As we use online social networks to form new friendships, share insights from the Bahá’í teachings or advance the interests of the Faith, our discourse and behavior, the

photographs we post, and the profiles we create about ourselves should reflect the distinguishing spiritual qualities that animate all Bahá’í endeavor. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá provides a vision for Bahá’ís visiting a new city—guidance that pertains equally well to online social environments: Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a center of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so that the people of that city may cry out and say: “This man is unquestionably a Bahá’í, for his manners, his behavior, his conduct, his morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the Bahá’ís.”

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Understanding Online Social Networks, 2009

In particular, youth and junior youth should be encouraged to exercise wisdom with respect to information posted in personal profiles; caution should be exercised in

accepting invitations from unfamiliar names or joining groups that one is not certain about; postings and other content should be consistent with standards of dignity and

accuracy, as youth are representatives of the Faith; and advice from Bahá’í institutions should be sought concerning protection matters or inquiries from individuals residing in

sensitive countries. In the case of children, parents need to exercise special vigilance with regard to social networking spaces.

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Understanding Online Social Networks, 2009

Like their real-world counterparts, online networks are able to engender a sense of community and shared identity, foster new personal bonds, exert social and moral influence, and promote mutual goals and interests.

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Understanding Online Social Networks, 2009

Online social networks offer fresh avenues for mobilizing “the talents and abilities of the rank and file of the believers” in conveying the spark of faith to a growing number seekers and inquirers. If utilized in a sensible and balanced manner, these online services can provide dynamic new ways of presenting the ideals and compelling verities

of the Bahá’í Revelation.

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Understanding Online Social Networks, 2009

The opportunities for Bahá’ís to use online social networks to strengthen and extend patterns of collaboration within the Bahá’í community, and to reach out to others with the

message of Bahá’u’lláh, are virtually limitless. As with all Bahá’í undertakings, though, a spirit of learning by doing and boldness should be balanced with forethought and

wisdom when using these online tools. The Internet is something of a proto-global community. It is both familiar and novel at the same time. The types of interactions one

may have are similarly traditional and new. Combining common sense with reliance on Bahá’í principles is essential to effective participation.

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Understanding Online Social Networks, 2009

There are two main types of online social networks: those in which members know one another directly or through friends; and those which are comprised of unknown

individuals coming from diverse geographic locations and backgrounds. Often participants do not fully internalize this distinction and, due to the informal and immediate quality of the medium, will treat unknown individuals as if they were close acquaintances, unwisely extending trust or exposing more information about themselves than is advisable. Thus, while interacting with all “in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship,” prudence and good judgment should be observed.

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Understanding Online Social Networks, 2009