Fake News and Social Media
When was the last time that you saw a questionable headline? When was the last time you or someone you know shared a big, BOLDED, in red questionable headline aimed or that you hit “like” for something questionable? When was the last time you posted something questionable that was “liked” by your friends? You know, the one that made your head turn or your mouth drop open and say, “What?” I bet just like for me, it was pretty recent, right? With the increasing availability of social media, one problem that we face is the problem of fake news. In order to gain more traffic and fame, the news sites and various social media platforms have been guilty of posting false stories. This problem surfaced, as we know, in the past election season as presidential candidates were accused of things that they may have never said or done.
So, what is fake news? Fake news is a story that is based on a lie or is partly true but used in such a way that ends up making it mostly false. Basically, fake news is…well,…. fake.
Did you ever come across the news article about Obama and the banning of the Pledge of Allegiance? I remember reading that headline on Facebook and thinking, “What? Did Obama go crazy? Can he even do that?” I only stopped feeling bad after I read the comment sections and realized that what I had thought was shocking news, was in fact “fake news” People say some of the dumbest things without looking into what’s really true or not!
We’ve all struggled to find facts from fiction. The initial shock that we have when we read something crazy, yet believable can send us into fight or flight mode. The emotion that one might be feeling like fear, or surprise, or embarrassment for believing and sharing the news is often quickly replaced by defensiveness, depression or confusion when and if we find out the news is not real.
Flaming arrows of Fake News
But what if I told you that there is other fake news that you should be even more worried about than what is appearing on your favored social media outlet? For Christians, fake news is everywhere in our lives and shouted at us every single day. No, not through Facebook, or Twitter, or CNN. Through who the Bible calls, The Deceiver.
Satan, according to Jesus, is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He lied to our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the garden. He lied to Jesus, in the desert, trying to divert Him away from His ministry. He lied to Judas and convinced him that thirty pieces of silver were worth more than the life of Jesus Christ. And he still lies – even to this day and even to us.
Apostle Paul talks about Satan’s attack as “flaming arrows” and directly warns us against them (Ephesians 6:16). One type of arrow that Satan shoots toward us, I believe, is “Fake News” It’s not hard to imagine that his attacks would revolve around deceiving people because he is the father of lies! He aims to spread lies and make us believe in those lies as he shoots flaming arrows of lies to Christians every day. Some miss but many hit their marks, causing pain if not destruction. His intent of spreading fake news is to destroy us on earth and in eternity. He tricks and deceives us from the truth and, ultimately, following Jesus.
What lies is he sharing with you today? He might be sharing that God will never forgive your sins because it’s too big for Him. God is too disgusted with you. Or the enemy might be saying to you that we need things or people to be satisfied in life. Or he might be lying to you by saying that God won’t accept me until I start trying harder.
Fake Versus Good
But what happens when you read something that is completely wrong, and you know that it is wrong? When I read something that I know is false, I completely disregard that news. I just move on with what I was doing and move on unhindered. Just as when I saw the fake news about Obama and the Pledge of Allegiance, I make sure that I am not falling for falsehoods. I fact-check. For fake news on social media, a simple search on Google helps me to find out what really happened and assures me that it didn’t happen. When we know the truth, we’re unhindered by the lies. It’s important to know the truth because when false accusations and lies come at us, we can boldly and confidently live our lives.
So how do we defend against the lies from the great liar? Paul tells us to “take up the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16). But faith in what exactly? When we are faced with lies of Satan, we must be reminded and have faith in the Good News. Just like a soldier hides himself, blow after blow, from deadly attacks behind his shield, we are to hide behind our shield of faith that only comes from the Good News.
What is the Good News? The Good News, or the Gospel, is that God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for sinners, like you and me. It’s a declaration and a statement that the King has saved His people. It is only in this news, the Good News, that we can take shelter and protect ourselves from Satan’s arrows. The Gospel confronts the lies that the enemy throws at us with truth by assuring us and helping us to disregard the fake news of Satan and of this world, whether in social media or in social situations.
When we hear the lies of the enemy saying that God will never forgive for our sins, or when he tells us that we’re worthless because of our sins, we can look to the Gospel of Jesus and remind ourselves that God has already sent His Son to die for sinners like us. And no matter how deep and great our sin is, His grace abounds even more.
Christians face fake news every day. They come from the enemy and puts us in more danger than we could imagine. Just as when we allow ourselves to post or “like” things that we have not taken the time to be discerning about or things we have not made sure are true, so as Christians, we must be careful when we are tempted by the “fake news” of Satan.
Not only that, we have to remember that Jesus prepared the way to avoid the need to believe in questionable things. The only and sufficient protection that we have is the Gospel, the Good News, as it gives us the assurance and discernment to what is true and false in our lives. As Christ says in John 14:6, He is “the way and truth and life.” And there is nothing fake about that.