Sunday, March 29, 2020

Think Before You Share

It’s often been said, “Think before you speak.” As James 1:19 says, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Nowadays with texting and emails, we should think twice before typing and posting something online. In the words of one pastor friend: “Put brain into gear before putting mouth/finger into action.”

Too many people quickly share stuff on social media without checking its veracity. As a result, hoaxes have circulated for years such as the “22 Christian missionary families that will be executed today in Afghanistan.” I have a policy not to forward any chain letter or meme and will block (but not unfriend) individuals who persist in sending me these messages.

One type of chain letter that can have negative consequences is those involving missing people. I’ve received messages with pleas such as, “If it was your child, you would want all the help you could get.” If it was my child and he/she was found, I wouldn’t want these messages to continue circulating. In recent months, many alerts appeared in my Facebook news feed with the appeal, “It takes seconds to share.” It also takes seconds to click the link provided to see if an alert has been updated. Most missing child reports I’ve seen online have already been resolved. 

Two days ago, a friend posted one that turned out to be seven years old. My investigation also found the above meme from the mother of that once-missing child. I don’t understand why some people keep resolved alerts posted on their Facebook pages. Not everyone takes time to scroll through all the responding comments to see a possible update. It’s better to delete the entire post. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all missing person alerts are legit. Some are posted by abusive parents and spouses who have court orders not to go near their estranged relatives. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has warned that sharing these photos may put lives at risk. Sometimes the "missing people" in these posts aren’t missing but hiding for their safety.

So think before you share. Better yet…Pray first! Then check for a location and date in the missing person report. If it doesn’t include these, contact the local police to confirm the report is real. Once again, God’s people should have higher standards when sharing information. 

“Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.” - Exodus 23:7 

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