The Church of England has urged Christians to follow the example of Jesus when interacting on social media, as it launched a new charter to create a "positive atmosphere" online.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visited the British headquarters of Facebook to launch the digital charter, which asks individuals and churches to pledge to be truthful, kind and welcoming online.

"Social media has transformed the way we live our lives. As Christians we are called to engage in a way which is shaped by the example of Jesus," he said in a statement before the visit.

He added: "Each time we interact online we have the opportunity either to add to currents of cynicism and abuse or to choose instead to share light and grace."

Archbishop of York John Sentamu also offered his support to the effort, saying people should take more time to think before posting comments.

"Sometimes it's about counting to ten and asking whether a spiteful statement on social media will change a situation for the better," he said.

He added: "The church wishes to be present in the digital sphere, and the same force for social cohesion which it strives to be in the real world", working alongside social media companies.