Bahai Internet Agency Monitoring use of the social networking site FacebookPosted: December 12, 2012
In February, 2008, Matthew Weinberg, Program Director for the Baha’i Internet Agency, released the following email letter on behalf of the Haifan Baha’i administration (see Baha’i Faith). The letter refers to the activities of the “Covenant-breaker Martin Lavallee”, a member of the schismatic Orthodox Baha’is and warns members of the Haifan Baha’i community against possible ‘exposure’ to this individual arising from contact on the social networking site, Facebook. “Covenant breaking” is a term employed by the Haifan Baha’is to refer to groups and individuals who challenge “the authority of the center of the Baha’i Faith“, which in this context refers to the authority of the Universal House of Justice, and is considered “the most serious spiritual offence that a Bahá’í can commit. It’s called Covenant-Breaking and is considered to be a spiritual disease and is punished by expulsion from the community.”
“28 February 2008
To All National Spiritual Assemblies
Dear Bahá’í Friends,
We have been requested by the World Centre to alert you to the current activities of the Covenant-breaker Martin Lavallee on Facebook.com. This individual administers the “Orthodox Bahá’is” page on Facebook and also has a personal page on the site. There have been recent instances where Bahá’í youth with accounts on Facebook have unwittingly accepted invitations from Lavallee to be a “friend” or to become “members” of the Covenant-breaker page. Further, as a consequence of the Facebook networking scheme, if an individual accepts a direct invitation from Lavallee or any other member of his group, the “Friends” list (with e-mail addresses) of that individual becomes exposed. In this way, those with insincere intentions have the potential to directly contact an increasing number of Bahá’is, interactions that could pose a threat to the spiritual well-being of youth and other believers who are not deepened in the Covenant.
Each National Assembly will need to determine the necessity and most appropriate manner of discreetly informing believers of this situation in consultation and with the assistance of the Counsellors. In doing so it will of course be important to avoid creating undue anxiety or curiosity about the nature of Covenant-breaker material on the Internet..
It is our intention to provide more general guidance in the near future about how online social networks can be constructively and safely used by Bahá’ís.
With loving greetings,
Matt Weinberg Program Director Bahá’í Internet Agency
cc: Members of the Continental Boards of Counsellors”