Since splashing onto the scene in the late 1990s and exploding just over a decade ago, social media has provided a tremendous communication opportunity for many – especially Christians charged with the Great Commission.
It’s also proven to be an ongoing challenge to navigate.
In reality, every Christian on social media is or should be a digital missionary. What we share, how we share it – and perhaps even more critically, how we respond to hot, controversial topics should be of great concern and interest to all people who profess faith in Jesus Christ.
As Big Tech continues to censor and in some cases (as with Twitter and The Daily Citizen) even silence language and news that doesn’t portend to a particular worldview, how are believers to respond?
Carefully and prayerfully.
It’s a hot topic these days.
Judge Laurence Silberman, a longtime judicial icon serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, utilized his dissenting opinion in a libel case on Friday to expose and lambaste the leftward tilt of mainstream media and Big Tech.
A member of the powerful D.C. Circuit in the nation’s capital, Judge Silberman used the opportunity of his dissenting opinion in a libel case to denounce the liberal bias of media giants such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and even National Public Radio, people couldn’t help but sit up and take notice.
Silberman argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the “policy-driven” 1964 case of New York Times Company v. Sullivan should be overturned. That decision shielded media from most types of libel cases, on the theory that the press would be stifled in their news reporting if the ordinary defamation rules that apply to everyone else were also applied to the press.
Silberman contended that the leftward bias of the media, together with the 1964 decision, serve only to embed and protect an unhealthy situation.
“It is well-accepted that viewpoint discrimination ‘raises the specter that the Government may effectively drive certain ideas or viewpoints from the marketplace,’” the judge wrote, citing R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minn., 505 U.S. 377, 387 (1992). “But ideological homogeneity in the media—or in the channels of information distribution—risks repressing certain ideas from the public consciousness just as surely as if access were restricted by the government.”
Attorney Joseph Mark Stern, commenting at left-leaning Slate.com, took issue with Silberman’s statements about social media in particular.
“In reality, social media companies do not censor conservatives, according to an exhaustive study recently released by the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights,” Stern wrote. “To the contrary, conservatives dominate social media today. But given Silberman’s charge of ‘bias at academic institutions,’ he would presumably reject the findings of the NYU study.”
In case anyone missed Silberman’s ultimate point in his case against the media, his conclusion spells out his concern.
“It should be borne in mind that the first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news,” Silberman stated. “It is fair to conclude, therefore, that one-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy. It may even give rise to countervailing extremism. The First Amendment guarantees a free press to foster a vibrant trade in ideas. But a biased press can distort the marketplace. And when the media has proven its willingness—if not eagerness—to so distort, it is a profound mistake to stand by unjustified legal rules that serve only to enhance the press’ power.”
Former President Donald Trump’s camp made headlines over the weekend in announcing plans to start yet another social media platform.
Trump senior advisor Jason Miller told Fox News’ MediaBuzz program host Howard Kurtz on Sunday that the former president will be returning to social media “in probably about two or three months here, with his own platform.”
Miller said that Trump has been meeting with several companies interested in assisting him in the new venture, and promised that “this new platform is going to be big,” predicting that Trump will draw “tens of millions of people.”
Was Jesus looking ahead to the reach of social media when He declared, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).
Navigating social media and news platforms remains an ever-present challenge for Christians these days. Yet never before have believers had such an opportunity to reach so many so quickly with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Photo from OCTAVIO JONES/REUTERS