Over the past few years, I have grown increasingly concerned over the proliferation of fake news on Facebook and other social media platforms. It is particularly alarming when I see others fall for it and repost garbage on their Facebook pages. To that end, I wanted to pass along several tips for how I make sure I don’t get caught posting untruths onto my personal page. Remember that God is the God of Truth (Isaiah 65:16, John 14:6, John 8:32)…we must ensure that what we say, that includes what we spread through social media, is a reflection of God’s Character. We have a responsibility to only speak the truth.
- Does this story seem outlandish? Does it make you incredibly mad or sad? Those sorts of emotions are rarely elicited by real news…although that isn’t necessarily true. Understand that fake news is written to drum up these major emotions so that you will immediately act on them. They are going for knee jerk shares. “or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God's work--which is by faith” – 1 Timothy 1:4.
- Does this come from a credible source? Before I repost a story, I usual google it and see how many other news sources are carrying it. If only online news publications are talking about it, I usually hold off until someone like the Washington Post, PBS NewsHour, or the like address it. “For my mouth will utter truth; And wickedness is an abomination to my lips” – Proverbs 8:7.
- Is it necessary? What I mean by that is: Why are you sharing this? Is it out of concern for others? Is it something that we all need to pray for? Or is it simply spreading around heartache and sadness? I’m not saying we need to gloss over bad content, but everyone alive understands this world is full of sadness and heartache and I don’t need to see every bad story. “For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret” – Ephesians 5:12.
- Is it appropriate? It may be funny, but would Jesus press “share”? I know that’s a heavy-handed question, but I do believe it’s fair. Would Jesus laugh with you, or are you sharing content that might cause your brothers and sisters to stumble in their walk? Understand that visual content can be difficult for others to deal with. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things” – Philippians 4:8.
- Does it encourage and uplift? There are times where we need to share news that doesn’t uplift, i.e. a child predator loose in the area, but for the most part, we need to make sure that what we share is loving and leads people to Christ. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” – 1 Thessalonians 5:8.
In these tips my purpose is not to browbeat you, my goal is that we live as salt and light in a dark and dying world. Let’s live differently as commanded by Christ, and let us join together as a church to make sure that we are sharing the Gospel…even through our Facebook pages!