The most annoying messages I often get via WhatsApp, are messages from 'well-established' members of the Church circulating what I can only conclude to be fake news. I'm bewildered how news stories that have no credence or authenticity can be so naively circulated without thought as to whether 'this text I am about to send to twenty other people may not be correct'. It reflects the gullible side of many professed Bible-believing members that in the simplest of forms, basic research of a sceptical news story that should only take five minutes is neglected and we begin to see the snowballing effect that social media excels in which is spreading news stories very fast to a wide population of people across the entire world.
So, within the past six months I have received texts with the following headline story:
Before sending the press button to your entire contacts list, verify the story! It makes sense. Contact your pastor or the Communication department of the Conferences or Union who are usually on the pulse with accurate news stories. Remember by passing on unverified news items you are contributing toward gossip and hearsay. Don't be a naive participant. Be informed!
2.Challenge the sender
Text back the sender and ask relevant questions about their source and accuracy. I have had to do this countless times and on almost all occasions the answer back is 'I assumed it was true'. Ask the sender to stop forwarding the message until they can verify the story.
3.Check the website links
Some messages have a website linked to it. This can seem to suggest authenticity as it's on a website open for all to see. However, there are websites that thrive on propaganda stories or are designed to specially slate the Adventist Church. Check the source of the website, are these links to official Adventist websites or not? You can be assured any important news item that affects the world Church will be on the official Adventist website hosted by the GC or National Church websites like www.adventist.org.uk.
4.Check the date/pictures
Social media often regurgitates old stories. Some return with a slightly different angle. When Obama was President there was a picture of him supposedly about to sign the Sunday law. When Trump got into office, the same story with his picture appeared.
Unless you are prepared to take the time to go through the steps and follow the advice above then simply, don't share.
In the book of Acts 17:11 we are told the Bereans, "were more noble of character than those of Thessalonica for they…examined the scriptures to see if what Paul said was true." Fake news could not pass through the Bereans for they had the practice of searching the scriptures for themselves.
As Adventists we pride ourselves in being known as the 'people of the Book' ‒ let us do likewise as the Bereans and search for ourselves that we will not be misled by any social media wind of doctrine or false story.
You can be assured that as time passes we will receive many more suspect social media stories. Don't get caught out and certainly don't be a participator of sharing fake Adventist news!