Social Media – Test All Things

In Acts 17:11, we read where Paul’s teachings were tested by the Berean Jews. This was not only acceptable, it expanded their faith.  Can we not apply this same expectation today to things we read that are not of the bible but of the world?

As the ministry venue for FHGH Ministries is currently a digitally based ministry, I do spend a bit of time reviewing others areas of the digital space. I have it on my heart, at some point, to write an article about “Christian Concerns About Big Tech”, but the Lord has yet to provide me with the right words – as well as solid biblical foundational support. My professional experience is based on technology so I do have some foundation on technology. Nevertheless, I look forward to when the Lord tells me the time is now.

However, this morning (4 Sep) I came across an article that was quickly spreading across Social Media that indicated “Oprah Winfrey had purchased a controlling stake in the Fox News Network”. A link to this article can be found below in the references section if you care to read for yourself. As one might imagine, this article caught the eye of many conservative readers and the result was foul. Conservatives felt that they had just witnessed the demise of the last venue of conservative free speech in America, and they were terrified. Violent actions had actually been contemplated by some. The writer of that article had accomplished his objective. Well played sir, well done! For my conservative friends out there, be comforted in the knowledge that this article is false!!!

1 Thess 5:21 “Test all things; hold fast what is good”

As tensions rise across our nation, rhetoric also increases exponentially. Unfortunately, the reaction is to spread “stuff” across social media platforms. Over 41% of Americans get their news from Social Media, this percentage increases as we consider younger generations. Unfortunately, a large percentage of what is placed out there across social media is false, or at best, intended to stir up a response placed on negative human emotions. Making this more difficult is that the bad guys know where the majority get their news but also that innocent citizens are also aware of the fakeness of social media news (this IS NOT intended to be commentary about regular media) but they react to it anyway.  This is due, in most part, to a digital and literacy deficiency. Oh, I wish I had space to share details about how our Founding Fathers wrote at an intelligence level that surpasses us today and how the Bible played a significant part in their vocabulary, knowledge, and writing style. But alas, that is for another day {I hope}. Acts 5:29 “….obey God rather than men”

The bottom line is that human nature is lazy and we tend to take the easy road at every opportunity. We focus on headlines rather than the body. We rely on human reasoning, the word of others, or tradition.

Acts 17:11 “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

When I came across that Oprah Winfrey article, there was a check in my spirit that something was wrong, so I tested the information found in that article. I googled it, I reviewed my trusted news sites, and a meditated on what the article was implying. In less than 5 minutes, I knew that the article was fake and false. Yet, the writer had accomplished his mission. What took 2 hours to spread will now take weeks to clean up.

2 Tim 4:3-4 “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

The Bible advises us to test scriptures, to test any word from God that we receive, and to vet what we hear and read with two or three spiritual brothers. When it comes to the junk that we see on Social Media, we should apply the same principal. Test it. Test it against two or three sources that you trust. If necessary, share it with a brother and sister to get their thoughts on it. Do not share or spread until you have checked and verified, the same that you would do with a word from God. The same should apply to something that you might consider “good” or “favorable” to you.

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

As Christians, I would argue that we need to test everything that we see come across our preferred social media platforms. As responsible Christians, we should be stewards of the truth, this also includes being good stewards of our digital resources and not add to the hype that is only intended to seduce a negative human reaction. This spreads hate.  I look forward to the day that Christians are contributing to not only good news, but also the truth. Perhaps, just perhaps, we shall see a decline in the fakeness that is taking over social media.

References:

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/social-media-still-has-a-fake-news-problem-and-digital-literacy-is-largel/538930/

https://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/nl/security/news/cybercrime-and-digital-threats/fake-news-cyber-propaganda-the-abuse-of-social-media

https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2018/03/fake-news-spread-fast-dont-blame-bots/

https://www.aace.org/review/social-media-and-fake-news/

Oprah Winfrey and the Fox News Network