Social Media Code of Conduct for Massachusetts Freemasons

The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has just enacted new rules concerning the use of Social Media by Massachusetts Freemasons.

Code of ConductSocial 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.

May 1, 2012

Social Media Committee

You can read the original Massachusetts Freemasons Social Media Code of Conduct PDF document here.

While most of these regulations are common sense rules promulgating proper protocol and etiquette, still there seems to be the continued penchant for Grand Lodges to feel that they have to control the behavior of their members. It was not so long ago that some Grand Lodges forbade its members to operate their own Masonic websites.

The regulations on videos, references to alcohol and games of chance, and the prohibition of communication with other Lodges and Grand Lodges using social media seems to be a bit draconian and to harken back to an era of stricter public moral regulation.

Freemasons are free thinkers and free – free from the restraints of conservative sectarian religious dogma. The attempt to CONTROL the daily lives of Freemasons rather than merely offering a pathway to enlightenment is a disturbing use of Grand Lodge power, especially in the 21st Century.

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About Fred Milliken

Fred is a Past Master of Plymouth Lodge, Plymouth Massachusetts, and Past Master of Paul Revere Lodge, Brockton, Massachusetts. Presently, he is a member of Pride of Mt. Pisgah No. 135, Prince Hall Texas, where is he is also a Prince Hall Knight Templar . Fred is a Fellow of the Phylaxis Society and former Executive Director of the Phoenix Masonry website and museum.

Comments

  1. Bro. John H. Doe says:

    Seems like yet another example of generational disconnect/discontent. I don’t now much about Mass. Grand Lodge, but it’s a pretty safe bet the Grand Master and this “Social Media Committee” are not in their 20′s. And, like many other aspects of the fraternity, if it’s not how things were done in the past, it isn’t right.

  2. I only disagree in that they specified no “official” communication with a grand lodge not of Massachusetts, which I tale to mean no one can represent the GL itself, which seems reasonable. I’m also encouraged that these are guidelines. My own GL simply issued an edict that all masons must stop social media activity until further notice. Ridiculous. I do believe the craft needs guidance. And I appreciate them noting that discipline in our beloved fraternity is best doled out by appeal to the heart, brother to brother.

    This is something I could work with. It would allow me to continue my blogging and social interactions with masons throughout the world who I will probably never meet imperson. Like yourself for example. It would also allow me to reach out to non-masons, presenting ourselves and our activities in an attractive light. Which is I believe what we need and want.

    My Brother, don’t misinterpret my appreciation as a failure to be diligent against the blatant overreaches of so many of our Grand Lodges. I just feel we should appreciate common sense when we see it. We all recognize they have no particular right to regulate anything. Bu publishing a guideline I think they acknowledge their limitations somewhat. I appreciate this as a particularly brotherly way to approach this. I hope my own GL figures this out.

    Travel light.

  3. I think that most Grand Lodges would rather we not use Facebook and Twitter at all. I say instead of that attitude that Grand Lodges should be on Facebook and Twitter and have their own pages!

    There is nothing wrong with some guidelines. Proper etiquette and protocol need to be observed. But my impression is that Massachusetts Grand Lodge is setting iron clad rules in place that if violated they are prepared to expel Brethren for.

    Grand Lodges have become control freaks and anal retentive. This new regulation by the GLMA could be another hammer to enforce conformity to a ridiculous vision of the modern world.

  4. I’m a member of the Millennial generation, and as such, am very active when it comes to social media. I think these guidelines are acceptable, for the most part. They generally read as though they are intended for situations in which a brother makes reference to the Fraternity via social media.

    I think all situations should be taken in context. For instance, a brother who tweets that he’s going to “go with his brothers to such and such pub after the meeting and get hammered during happy hour” would in violation of these rules. However, a more reasonable person could tweet that he is “looking forward to fellowship with his lodge brethren at ‘name of local pub’” following the lodge meeting. The second scenario would reasonably fit within the confines of those rules, IMO, as it sheds a positive light on the craft.

    I do agree with some of the previous posters regarding the last guideline regarding communications with other Grand Lodges and subordinate lodges. In my opinion, as long as a grand lodge or subordinate lodge is recognized by the Grand Lodge of which I am a member, then proper communication with said recognized Grand Lodges shouldn’t be a problem. As an example, if a lodge in a neighboring state has a fundraiser for their Masonic charity, these rules would ban me from congratulating them on their successes via Facebook, Twitter, etc. unless I did it via my state’s Grand Lodge. I guess the debate would be what they define as “official communication”.

    As a Millennial, I believe that it is imperative that Freemasons and Grand Lodges adopt social media in order to continue to raise good men from my generation. Members of my generation are continually looking for ways they can get involved with their communities and volunteer. Social media allows us to “trumpet our causes” and tell the world just what is is we are about – faith, hope, and charity. In addition, social media can do great harm to peoples impression of the craft, and I think these guidelines from the MA grand lodge are reasonable.

  5. As a Massachusetts Mason I can offer this: find out the facts before you make a judgement.

    This policy was created after brothers recorded degree work on their smartphones and posted the videos to facebook. In fact, the videoes were on facebook before the lodge even closed.

    That was then aggravated by contentious discussions and arguments which took place between masons on their facebook walls which were not only a public airing of dirty laundry, but also a gross violation of masonic etiquette and procedure.

    This had nothing to do with the GL of MA not wanting brothers on facebook. In fact, the GL of MA and several of their committees have facebook profiles and really use facebook to get out info.

    As an advisor in both Rainbow & DeMolay, I have young people who are my friends on facebook. While I may be conscientious about what I post, I can’t control what others post on my wall and sometimes things get written and I can’t get to facebook and take them down quick enough.

    More than that, even, I can’t control what others use as their profile pics, and some involve obscene gestures or pictures. Not only do I have to worry about my DeMolays and Rainbow girls being exposed to this, I also have to worry about my facebook friends who aren’t masons but who can get the wrong impression of masonry because some brother somewhere isn’t thinking when he posts something.

    I don’t care if you are a millenial or a WWII veteran, recording and posting actual degree work then getting into an online flamefest over it is unacceptable for any and every member of our fraternity. Many brothers seem to be quick to make every GL decision or edict an “us versus them” debate and don’t take the time to actually discover the facts. In fact Bro. John H. Doe says right off the bat that he doesn’t know much about the GL of MA, but then assumes it is an issue of disconnect. Now that you know why it was done, do you still feel that way my brother?

    I think much of the code of conduct reflects what is already in the GL rules, regulations, policies, and procedures, and I regret that brothers need to be reminded that they are to be temperate and prudent in their conduct.

  6. Oh, and to this comment from the original post:

    “The regulations on videos, references to alcohol and games of chance, and the prohibition of communication with other Lodges and Grand Lodges using social media seems to be a bit draconian and to harken back to an era of stricter public moral regulation.”

    In our present litigious society, these reflect an attempt to cover our butts. “Games of chance” are regulated by the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as is the sale of alcohol. To advertise that raffles will be held or that beer/wine/booze will be sold opens the lodge & Grand Lodge up to liability both with the state government and also with civil parties. I would say that most lodges don’t even know that the state gaming commission and local city statutes control raffles…

    Every Grand Lodge that I am aware of requires all official communication to take place between the Grand Lodge Secretaries. Why? This insures that all the parties involved are actually just, legal, and regular lodges and aren’t clandestine in any way.

    The video question I already mentioned in my previous post.

    Believe it or not, there actually ARE reasons for most of these rules. It isn’t just to “make life difficult” for individual lodges or individual masons. As a student (and teacher) of history I can tell you that laws aren’t created for no reason. Laws are REACTIONARY. Something happens, things go wrong. In an attempt to prevent it from happening again a law is created. This is why it’s illegal to spit on the sidewalk in some towns: somewhere along the way it was a problem so they created a law to address it. If nobody had ever ever ever spit on the sidewalk, there wouldn’t ever need to BE a law!

    I have taken the approach that when presented with a law/rule/prohibition that seems unreasonable or too strict, I do research to try and find out what prompted the law to begin with. I find some amazing stories that way!

  7. I have been waiting for a comment like this for I knew the new regulations had to be the result of someone stepping over the line. Yet is it really fair to punish everybody for the transgressions of a few. If one Lodge threw a BBQ and many of the members got stinking drunk and it got written up in the newspaper would the Grand Lodge be justified in banning all Masonic BBQs?

    Punish those that did wrong. Make a big enough example of them to send a strong message to others that might think of doing the same. But don’t punish everybody.

    Social media is here to stay. It is one of the ways the younger generation communicate

    The truth be told you can guard your Facebook from unwanted content and unwanted people. This seems to be an issue with you so I will recommend this article for starters

    http://www.komando.com/tips/index.aspx?id=10659&page=1

    Also a very good organizer of your personal Facebook is an App called Social Fixer. Try it it is free.

    http://www.socialfixer.com/

    So, my Brother, you can control your Facebook experience.

  8. Fair enough – punish those who committed the crime. I agree!

    That being said, I don’t see much in the code of conduct that is too overbearing. It applies to the public section of social media sites (such as facebook’s wall, but not their inbox system which is still considered private correspondence like email, but brothers are still to be as cautious committing anything to electronic correspondence as they would paper correspondence “write”…”print”…etc.) and I honestly see nothing that would restrict the dissemination of true, good, appropriate masonic information.

    This policy was not a “knee-jerk” reaction. I believe the committee worked around two years on this project. The men who formed the committee are not old “fuddy-duddies” who are unfamiliar with social media. The members include a (young – probably late 30s) former Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Lodge PR person (yup, the Grand Lodge has a professional publicist who is on staff and is paid to manage the Grand Lodge’s public relations and publicity programs), the individual who is the administrator of the GL facebook page, a “millenial”, and one of the people in charge of masonic education in the Commonwealth. This was a planned and thought out process undertaken by some very knowledgeable people who actually use social media. In fact the GL of MA is very aggressive in using social media to maintain contact with their members, and the people involved in writing this policy were the movers and shakers behind that.

    A Grand Master from a neighboring jurisdiction had an interesting initiative during his year: he sent every lodge a 4′ high mirror engraved with “Look at Yourself: You are Somebody’s Impression of Masonry.” When brothers have profile pics of them in regalia and then post long threads containing profanity, personal attacks, and generally obscene content they miss the entire point. I know that at least half of the people on my facebook page are NOT masons – they are family, people from high school & college, and co-workers. All they know about masonry is what they get from people like me, what they read on the internet, and what they see on TV. What about those people who are non-masons and friends with the individuals who think it is perfectly fine to post an online attack against another brother? What are they going to think?

    Besides, with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts spends on publicity and public relations, don’t you think they have a vested interest in trying to protect their “brand”?

    I really wish this code of conduct wasn’t necessary. A PDDGM I know developed a saying, “if you keep masonry in front of you, it will lead the way. If you put yourself in front of masonry, it will never catch up.” I would propose that the “brothers” who think they should be allowed to post whatever they want on their facebook page don’t get it. I see it in the drivel that is posted! They are putting themselves ahead of masonry. They don’t stop to consider that they are somebody’s impression of masonry, and the obscenities they post on their social media profiles is going to be some non-mason’s impression of masonry as a whole, never mind that the whole thing is really below the standards we expect from our members!

    Is this social media code going to stop this? No, of course not. People will still post inappropriate content, and yes they will be punished individually. I think the goal is that this policy will highlight the problem and hopefully get people to at least think before they hit enter.

  9. Its such as you learn my thoughts! You appear to understand a lot about this,
    such as you wrote the e book in it or something. I feel that you simply can do with
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  10. Just another example of how the once great institution of Freemasonry has been reduced to a bunch of old guys who know practically nothing about enlightenment, the Mysteries or the symbols of the craft, but who are very good at bullying young members with these kinds of control tactics. (This kind of behavior has nothing to do with FREEmasonry.)

    By the way anyone who thinks that they need the Grand Lodge to get enlightened, (or Freemasonry in general) obviously isn’t paying attention. Now a days we have the internet and anyone can easily find out that Freemasonry is DIRECTLY derived from medieval Hermetic Philosophy, Alchemy and Qabalah.
    Those within Freemasonry who continue to deny this (often with much hostility I might add) and who are trying to keep Freemasonry an all male, self glorifying, pop and ritual service club, are the prime culprits undermining the craft and bringing about it’s downfall.
    Oh well, better things are already replacing it.
    Fiat Lux!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] a post about a new Social Media Code of Conduct for Massachusetts Freemasons [PDF] (HT @Masonictraveller) over at Freemason Information, part of The Beehive series by Fred [...]

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  3. [...] a post about a Social Media Code of Conduct for Massachusetts Freemasons [PDF] (HT @Masonictraveller) over at Freemason Information, part of The Beehive series by Fred [...]

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