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A couple of episodes back, we talked about the purging of conservative voices by Big Tech. But there has been a voluntary exodus from several of the big social media platforms, as well. Many people who are fed up with the censorship are opting to leave Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, in favor of less restrictive platforms like MeWe, Parler, and Rumble. Of course, Parler users were stripped of their voices when Apple and Google dumped the app from their smartphones and Amazon kicked the popular platform off of their web servers. Parler may be back at some point after being forced to build their own servers from the ground up, but the cancel-card has been played – and so a lot of the disenfranchised are trying to unplug themselves from those who have been stifling their free speech.
While I understand the frustration and even the utter disgust some folks are experiencing, and I’ve considered disconnecting myself from media giants like Facebook and Twitter, I believe there is more to consider here. There are several simultaneous attempts going on right now to separate us socially. These efforts are being waged on multiple fronts. We talked in the last episode about healing the divisions between us, but how can we do that if we give in to the pressure to just up and leave all the outlets that want us as conservatives gone anyway? Aren’t we playing into their hands and allowing them to divide us further by leaving their platforms on our own?
Then there is the matter of how these Big Tech companies gather tons of personal data about us and sell it to advertisers for marketing purposes. They can get away with this because, simply by having an account with them, we have already given up our right to keep that accessible data private. Where we shop, where we eat, what our favorite music is, our marital status, the number of family members we have, our photos, where we live – all this stuff and a lot more is trackable online and companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have access and share every last detail. Now, THAT kinda makes ya wanna go off the grid, doesn’t it?
Stick around. I’m Stace Massengill, and this is the Kingdom Hero Blogcast.
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Long before all of this heavy censorship started happening, I thought many times about deleting my Facebook account. My reasoning back then was all about just wanting to unplug. I began to realize how much of my time was being spent on social media, and it was disturbing. I started trying to think of ways to ween myself off of it, but it quickly became obvious that this had developed into a full-blown addiction. Worse than that, Facebook had become a monster that had its tentacles in almost every major aspect of my life. Suddenly, deleting my Facebook account showed itself to be a virtual impossibility.
There are probably 20 things I do in service to my church that are dependent upon my access through Facebook. We have Messenger Groups through Facebook that I use for communication with – for example – my Audio Visual Crew. We have a Facebook Church Page AND a Group Page there for communicating with regular attendees. The church website is interlinked through Facebook. It’s all so interconnected that, if I were to delete my account, I’d lose administrative access to all that church stuff I’m involved in. Not to mention, the church also has a Twitter account.
So for me, simply leaving Facebook is NOT currently an option. And, as I said, voluntarily removing my own conservative voice from the platform would be playing into their hands. Shouldn’t I rather remain there and continue to offer an alternative view – a conservative and a Christian view – for as long as I can? If I am going to be a witness for Christ, I need to be where the mission field is. When they try to censor me for speaking the truth, should I just give up and leave? No, I don’t think so. Why should I make it easy for them to silence me?
(Jesus speaking) 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
In other words, we should not shrink back from demonstrating righteousness to the world. Many will surely revile us for it, give us a hard time, even make fun of us – but when that happens, we are to count it as a good thing to be hated for Christ’s sake.
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
Now let’s apply this to concept of being salt through our social media accounts. There we can do more good than we realize just by living out a Godly example in front of others. If we simply remove ourselves from the picture, who will be salt for those who need it?
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
We should be like that city on a hill that can be seen far and wide. If we remove ourselves and our light from those who need it, who then will be the light that helps them to see the truth?
When you look at it this way, you start to see that a lot more good can come from remaining in an area – or a social network – than from abandoning it. That’s kinda like conceding defeat and granting territory to the enemy. Now, if they steal that ground from you and kick you off or censor you – that’s on them. But willingly giving it up to them? I just can’t see how that’s a viable option.
I will say this, though. I have opened up alternate accounts with other platforms – namely, MeWe and Parler. But that serves two purposes: 1) Those are my backup plans for if and when I get tossed from Facebook and Twitter. 2) By having accounts on other platforms, I’m widening my horizons and deepening my mission field. I’ll admit that I was once all for dumping the big social media giants in favor of the other guys who don’t censor my content. But now, no. Leaving a mission field to be taken over by the enemy? Nuh-uh. Not me. I’m not ready to sound the retreat.
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Okay, what about all the data mining done by these big companies? They get access to pictures and all kinds of personal information through social media and web tracking – how can I hope to maintain any kind of privacy? Now THAT is a good question, and there ARE answers – if you’re willing to pay a little something for the service.
But before I get into that, I know there are a lot of you saying, “What? Something else to cost me money?” Hey, I feel ya. You may not want to shell out your hard-earned income, but that depends on how important it is to you to hang on to some semblance of privacy. I’ll build the case for this in a bit, but right now I wanna give you a few tips that won’t cost you anything except some time.
Limiting your exposure to the internet is key, but that seems more and more difficult to do nowadays. We do pretty much everything online. Banking, shopping, communicating, paying bills – you name it. So let’s start with your smartphone. If you’re like me, every photo you take with your smartphone gets automatically uploaded to a web server so that you don’t lose it. Google Photos is one of the more common apps that does this for you. However, once Google has this access to your photos, it’s potentially accessible to anyone and everyone online. Wanna put a stop to that? Go into your phone’s settings and disconnect or discontinue Google’s access to your photo gallery.
Let’s talk about social media’s access to your photos and information. When you sign up for, say, a Facebook account, the sign up process that you are prompted through will guide you in such a way that – if you’re not paying very close attention, which most people don’t – you’ll be giving Facebook access to everything you do there. The default settings give them permission to gather your pictures and other data for whatever purposes they see fit. And if you’ve already been with them for a while, they don’t seem too forthcoming or user friendly when it comes to changing those privacy settings. But given a little time, you can go into those settings – making sure you investigate every nook and cranny – and change what information is visible to who. Still, it’s a tedious process to make any real changes, and it might be easier to delete the account and start over from scratch.
Obviously, this is not ideal. There are ways to limit what stuff can be seen, and you can do it for free, but it can take a lot of time. There are plenty of us who just don’t have the patience for all that. This is what sometimes makes me want to just delete every social media account I have and avoid all of it. But, oh yeah, I can’t delete my accounts and still do what I do for the church. Besides, getting rid of all your social media accounts would only be part of protecting your data. You’d also have to get rid of all your search history, shopping history, browsing history, all the tracking cookies on your computers and smartphones – and on and on it goes. Today, it is pretty much impossible to completely unplug.
That’s where certain pay services come in. What do you know about VPNs? If you’re like most people – absolutely nothing, right? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and this is something that can mask/hide/encrypt everything you do while connected to the internet. There are many different companies who offer this service. For a relatively small monthly, 6-month, or yearly fee, you can have a VPN protect all your online devices – smartphones, tablets, computers. Now before I start sounding too much like a commercial here, hey, I’m just saying that you might find it worth your while to look into it. I won’t bore you with a bunch of details about how a VPN works, but aside from keeping your data safe and private, there are other benefits to using one as well. But, I’ll let you do the research on that.
The point is, for most of us, our data is already out there. It’s kinda hard to put the genie back in the bottle, so-to-speak. But if you really want to get serious about protecting your privacy, anything that’s truly effective and worthwhile is gonna cost you something – period.
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So… Stay or go? Given all we’ve discussed today, you may be thinking that you’d have been better off if you’d never opened a social media account…or an Amazon account…or if you’d never bought a smartphone…or a computer. But these technological gadgets and modern marvels and tap-to-buy services are just so convenient, right? And once you have it, you very rapidly become so dependent upon it that you can’t imagine not having it.
A long time ago, it was automobiles. And indoor plumbing. Then it was electricity. And radio. Then television. And stereo sound. Then color TV. And high-definition TV. And, oooh, surround sound. Then home computers. Not so long ago, it was pagers. Then mobile phones. Eventually, it was smartphones – which is essentially a powerful computer that fits in your pocket. With each new thing, there quickly came the feeling of, “How on earth did I EVER do without this!?!” And so, separating ourselves from it doesn’t seem possible.
There are some things that we could do without. And if we had no choice, we’d find a way to survive without these modern gizmos we’ve become so attached to. All it takes is one strong EMP blast. An electromagnetic pulse would knock out everything electrical – temporarily, at least. Can you imagine how most of us would respond to something like that? Especially the youngest generation who’s had smartphones and computers around for literally their entire lives. “Dad, the wifi is down.” “No, it’s not just the wifi. it’s everything electrical.” “Well, can we watch TV?” “Uhm, no. That requires electricity.” “Ugh. Can I drive over to Janie’s house?” “Nope, the car won’t run either.” Talk about mayhem.
But as long as we have these conveniences, we’ll keep using them. It’s part of our reality now. This is the way it is. And privacy is becoming less and less of an actual thing. If you feel compelled to erase your online existence, good luck to ya. That won’t be easy, if even possible. If you want to delete your Facebook or Twitter accounts, that’s your prerogative. But it’s not the most practical way to get back any privacy you’ve lost. And if you’re motivation for joining the mass exodus from social media giants is political or out of frustration with all the censorship, again, it’s your prerogative. But in the midst of all the cancel culture, why would you cancel yourself?
If our voices are to be heard, leaving Facebook or Twitter isn’t the answer. If you were a missionary to, say, South America, and you met with some opposition there… Would you just up and leave? Would you give up and abandon the mission field just because of it? Or would you pray harder and seek for God’s wisdom and the courage to endure? Don’t give up the fight, my friends. Remain steadfast in the faith, no matter what the opposition says or does.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Folks, don’t give in, and don’t give up. Put on God’s armor, pray and ask Him to help you stand up for what’s right – to be salt and light to the world, just as He has commanded us. And when you’ve done everything else you can do…hold firmly to your faith and to God’s promises. Refuse to be moved or shaken by all that’s going on around you – and simply STAND.
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