Opinion · World

Facebook: Big Brother watching over you?

Facebook has been criticized a lot by Christians. However, that does not seem to decrease the use of Facebook among them. Granted, Facebook can be used in a good way. It has its benefits. But sometimes I cringe when I read some of the posts. Very personal conversations going on in the comments. Sometimes parents post pictures of their children which certainly would embarrass them if those pictures show up in 10 or 15 years. And you can be sure that there is a big chance some of those photos will show up again sooner or later.

Over the past couple of days, Facebook has been in the news in a way that we do need to pay attention.

Revenge Porn

Facebook announced that it is going to help ‘you’ fight ‘revenge porn’. It happens once in a while that someone posts nude pictures of others on Facebook, for the purpose of shaming them. This is called “revenge porn”. This raises the question of course, why in the first place you allow others to make nude pictures of you. But some people are so naive that they let it happen. Never mind, Facebook says, we can help you. Just send us your nude pictures. Facebook’s computers will analyze these nude pictures and if anyone anywhere in the world uploads nude pictures of this person Facebook will block it.

A laudable initiative. Or is it? Would it not be better for Facebook to just block anything and everything with nudity in it? And would it not be better even, for people to realize that your nakedness is something you only share with the one who is closest to you, and is not something to be photographed? The examples of revenge porn over the past few years should be a wake up call and a warning to everyone that the sexual revolution is now destroying its own children.

WA Police 

About a week ago we posted an article: “WA Police: Ban kids from social media“:  PARENTS need to wake up and realise the only way to stop their children being cyberbullied is to ban them from using social media, the WA Police Force warns. Even the secular government starts to realise more and more the danger of social media in our society.

“Getting you hooked into its tentacles”

In another article about Facebook Sean Parker, a former Facebook executive, gives a dire warning, while lashing out against the social network and social media in general. He warns that social networks have to power now to alter society and not for the better. He added that Facebook’s mission in the early days was just about getting you hooked into its tentacles.

Another one who was involved in building Facebook into what it is now, the creator of the “like” button, Justin Rosenstein, said that he thinks his invention is a contributor to “time poorly spent.”.

Both these guys don’t say this because they have an axe to grind with Facebook. They are both for a part also criticizing their own work. They know what is happening.

What now?

Does this mean that we should all close our Facebook accounts? For some that might be the best solution. I usually check Facebook a couple of times per day. And I sometimes think I spend too much time on Facebook. But then I notice that some others must have a 24/7 presence on Facebook, looking at all the posts and the comments coming from them. I must confess that, in order to keep Facebook useful for me, I had to ‘unfollow’ a lot of those friends. I don’t have the time (or rather I don’t think I should spend my time) to wade through a swamp of useless material or reposts, empty comments, and much more, before I can find the few nuggets of interesting and useful information.

Can we still use Facebook in a way that is useful for us? I think so. Facebook can be a great tool to promote certain activities, share useful information with others, make certain announcements to a larger community, and maybe a few more reasons. As long as we are willing to give up our desire to be ‘liked’ by others. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Stop hitting the ‘like’ button. Some people only post for the purpose to be liked, to collect as many ‘likes’ as possible. This is selfish and is an unchristian attitude. We should not do anything to sustain such an attitude. If I post something, I do it because I think it is useful for others to read. I don’t care about the number of likes I get. I just want you to read it, whether you like it or not. Don’t waste your time on liking it.
  2. Only comment if you have something to contribute to the discussion. If you want to show compassion or support for those who are suffering, posting a comment or an emoji is a very cheap way of doing it. A phone call, email, or even a visit is a much better way. It takes time, but isn’t that what community is all about? If you want to show compassion but are not willing to take time for that, then your compassion is worthless.
  3. If you post something that only has value for a limited group of friends, then limit the group who will see it to those friends. Facebook gives the possibility to define who will see your post. Don’t hesitate then to make use of that possibility. If more people would do so, it would make Facebook better. I’m not interested in what you are having for dinner today or what outing you have been making today and who of the kids did what. I’m only interested if it can give me a good laugh, or if it gives me a good idea which I can use.
  4. Don’t upload any pictures or information about others (children, friends, others) that can be embarrassing for them, either now or in the future.
  5. Whatever you post, first ask yourself: why do I want to post this? And: is it useful for others? Is it glorifying to God?

Facebook, as so many other social media, is a tool in the hands of Satan to get many hooked on sin and distract them from their work in God’s Kingdom. But, as Charles Wesley said, “Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?” We can also apply this to social media. We can rip this tool out of the hands of the Devil and use it as a tool to spread the gospel. The tool in itself is not evil. It is the way in which we use it that makes it either evil or good.

Our use of Facebook should be a godly use, to encourage each other as Christians and to spread the gospel to non-Christians. To glorify God’s name, and not our own name.

Five hundred years ago, the printing press was a great help in spreading the Great Reformation all over Europe. Let internet, Facebook and other social media now again be a great help to spread the heritage of the Great Reformation all over the earth.