UPDATE: Jonathan Sullivan (@sullijo), who tweeted the first “Catholic Rules for Twitter” on April 1, is now looking to raise funds for Catholic Relief Services by selling T-shirts and other featuring the logo below. Says Sullivan in a post on Catholic Tech Talk:
“Once the meme took off, I thought it would be cool to make it work for good. To that end we set up a #CatholicRulesForTwitter store where folks can buy shirts and mugs featuring an awesome #CatholicRulesForTwitter logo graciously donated by Jackson Alves. All proceeds go to benefit Catholic Relief Services!”
What started out as an April Fools Day tweet by a Catholic blogger from Washington, D.C., morphed into a humorous “Catholic Rules for Twitter” trending topic on the social networking site Twitter April 1. Within 24 hours, more than 400 tweets and retweets with the Catholic Rules hashtag were posted on Twitter.
For those unfamiliar with Twitter, it allows members to send short text messages, 140 characters in length — called “tweets” — to friends or “followers.” The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet.
The topic, Catholic Rules for Twitter, began Friday morning when Rae J. (@VitaCatholic) posted a tweet that was misinterpreted as critical of a Catholic organization. That organization (@NCBCenter) was trying to attract more Twitter followers.
“Apparently @NCBCenter thinks that they deserve to have you following them, even though they don’t actually use Twitter for more than RSS.”
“My dry tweet worked for a few of my followers who promptly followed @NCBCenter, but one took offense on @NCBCenter’s behalf,” Rae J. explained in an e-mail April 2. “After trying to clear up the confusion I tweeted ‘Can someone give me the link to the Catholic Rules For Twitter? I never read it and apparently missed the rule that joking isn’t allowed.'”
Jonathan Sullivan, (@sullijo) who serves as director of catechetical ministries for the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., responded to the tweet.
“I thought I would be helpful and post some rules for her,” Sullivan said in an e-mail reply April 2.
He jokingly wrote: “@VitaCatholic: Never tweet quotes from the NAB without express permission of @USCCB.” He then added the hashtag, #CatholicRulesForTwitter”.
In response to his note, @VitaCatholic posted: “@sullijo: Never retweet @USCCB without their express permission. #CatholicRulesForTwitter”
USCCB stands for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. On Twitter, the conference is identified as @USCCB.
What happened next caused Catholic Rules to go viral.
According to Sullivan, @USCCB jumped into the fray. “Not realizing this was a joke, @USCCB replied, ‘Correction: You do not need permission to retweet our content. Retweet away. #CatholicRulesForTwitter.'”
Within minutes, said Sullivan, @USCCB discovered the Catholic Rules topic was in jest and sent out another tweet: “Okay, okay we get it. You guys got us good. #CatholicRulesForTwitter #AprilFools”
@USCCB, with more than 7,500 followers, then sent out one more tweet: “If you want a good laugh, check out #CatholicRulesForTwitter.”
Soon after the @USCCB post, the Catholic Rules topic went viral, with new rules being posted from around the country.
If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can still check out the Catholic Rules by logging on to Twitter and in the search engine type in #catholicrulesfortwitter.
Here are my personal Top 10 Catholic Rules for Twitter, tongue in cheek of course. What are yours?
- @iTh0t: Mary turned to the disciples & said, “RT whatever he says.”
- @CatholicWAHM: You shall not tweet the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- @blueberries4me: Married couples should not block the act of tweeting, but may abstain from tweeting on certain days if necessary.
- @MisterRae: Blessed are you when people RT you without credit and tweet all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
- @FatherChristian: Tweets about Mary should not imply worship, but rather devotion to the Blessed Mother.
- @helenlee27: While tweets should generally be in the vernacular, a concerted effort should be made to preserve the Latin & Greek.
- @sullijo: A coadjutor bishop immediately takes over the bishop’s Twitter account when he retires.
- @uvaldeattny: Women are not required to cover their heads while tweeting, but in some parishes this is still customary.
- @MustBeTheJanay: The mission of the Church is to make known through twitter the love of God to the world.
- @KevinBohli: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, tweet.” – St. Francis of Assisi