the shape of leadership

Proclaim the Good News, Not Fake News

Five things to consider before sharing online

Chris Colvin on June 18, 2020

In recent years, there has been an uptick in the number of fake news sites and stories online. Such content is intentionally misleading. It may be thinly veiled satire and parody, or it could be agenda driven.

As a messenger of the gospel, it’s important to consider what other messages you are sharing. The first should affect the second, but the second can obscure the first. Without careful consideration to what you post online, you may inadvertently hamper your ability to speak clearly about real spiritual issues.

Here are five things to consider before you share online:

1. Consider the Source

Before you share content on social media, check to make sure the source is reputable. Some fake news sites use web addresses that appear authentic, so look closely. You can also search for information about the site elsewhere to find out whether it’s reliable.

Remember, just because someone else claims a site is fake news doesn’t mean it is. On the other hand, just because some people believe the news article doesn’t make it true. So do your own research.

Sharing an inaccurate news story can damage your testimony and cause unbelievers to think twice before listening to you about spiritual issues.

2. Consider the Bias

When you do share, be aware that the author of the article or column has an inherent bias. Every writer does. But good journalism is able to look beyond the bias to provide evidence and sources from all angles.

Also, consider your own bias. It is much easier to share information that will confirm your own beliefs rather than challenge them. And those who agree with you will be more likely to “like” and share your article as well. So make sure your biases are not keeping you from verifying the veracity of the news.

3. Consider the Claims

What is the article claiming to be true? What evidence is the author providing? Can it be verified independently? For instance, medical and scientific claims require testing and peer review. News stories require sources who can be checked.

You may read an article that links to another article and claims to be reporting on previous news. When you see that, click on the link and read the other article for yourself. You may find the author is making assumptions or even misquoting the original source.

4. Consider the Motive

Why is this particular topic of interest to the author? There may be a motive behind writing it that goes beyond simply reporting the news. This may mean you need to check the background of the author in question for any connections to the reported events or ideas.

5. Consider the Lord

Finally, ask yourself whether sharing this will glorify the Lord. Especially as a minister of the gospel, you should be diligent in making sure all you do brings honor to Him.

Sharing an inaccurate news story can damage your testimony and cause unbelievers to think twice before listening to you about spiritual issues.

When you post something online, you’re not just sharing content. You are sharing something about yourself. Others will see it. That’s the whole point. But what are they seeing? Is it underscoring or undermining the good news you are called to proclaim?

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