Facebook, Twitter, and Truth Telling

Truthfulness is a basic Christian value, for example, Ephesians 4:25 reads “So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.” Passages like this are found throughout the Bible, and most of us have long recognized their importance in our daily face to face interactions with one another. Where we are more likely to transgress and get into trouble is in our online interactions on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and the forwarding of viral emails (you know, the kind that have been forwarded again and again and again. And the issue about which we are most likely to repost or retweet falsely: politics.

It would seem that some things about politicians we oppose are just too juicy not to pass on. The problem, in my experience, is that the juicier a story, the less likely it is to be true. Therefore, especially today, I encourage you to double check the veracity of a post or tweet before passing it along. In my experience, this can easily be done by copying a section of the material in question, pasting it into Google and seeing what pops up. If that doesn’t bring anything up, I’ll choose a few key words from the story and do a search for those words. Then it’s simply a matter of finding out whether or not the story can be traced to a recognizable, credible source. Of course, even the major news outlets sometimes get things wrong, but it’s better than nothing. You can also try out snopes.com which has been debunking false internet rumors since 1995.

To retell or pass on a lie in personal conversation is almost as bad as making up that lie up in the first place. Retweeting and reposting falsehoods is simply the online equivalent of gossip. Truthfulness is a Christian imperative.