Once again, a hoax circulating on Facebook claims the social media network will have free reign over your personal information and photographs unless you post a specific status update declaring they are “strictly forbidden” from doing such a thing.
When you couple this with the numerous supposed free gift cards from Walmart, Bill Gates giving away $5,000, and all the insane conspiracy theories, it seems otherwise intelligent people share some of the most ridiculous things.
But why is that? Why does your cousin post a vacation picture one day and a fake Walmart scam the next? What makes your friend from church share a Bible verse in the morning and a blatantly false political story that night?
It is telling that so many times, people began their sharing of these type of posts with something along the lines of “better safe than sorry.”
They are worried that they will miss out on something on which they place value (money, privacy, political news) and are willing to risk something they view as invaluable (a status update on Facebook).
After all, the thinking goes, what does it matter if I share this clearly photoshopped picture of Gates promising to give me money and get nothing, I didn’t give away anything except a status update?
But in reality, you do lose something. When you share stories that are fake or social media hoaxes, you give away what money can’t buy.
You trade away trust and credibility among your circle of friends for some magic social media beans — the possibility, however remote, that you might gain some money (or prevent a company from using your material as a way for them to make money).
Whether you realize it or not, your words are important, including those shared on social media. As I wrote earlier, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident on our social media accounts and so should truth and trustworthiness.
The evangelical Christian views God’s word as infallible and inerrant, able to cut deep inside of us and pierce into our thoughts and ideas.
But it is not just Jesus as the Incarnate Word of God or the Bible as the written Word of God that has value and significance. Our words also carry weight and importance.
Proverbs has numerous warnings and promises about the things we say. In fact, Proverbs 18:21, says that with our tongue we hold the power of life and death.
There is no pass for flippant things. We do not get a do-over because it was “just Facebook.” Jesus says we will give an account for “every careless word they speak.”
His warning is about the day of judgment, but it doesn’t have to wait that long.
Your credibility is expendable and can run dry quickly. I find it almost impossible to not evaluate differently the words of someone who shares hoaxes and conspiracies on social media. They have spent their trust and have little means to gain it back.
It matters what you say. Your words, including social media updates, have immense value — more than a free gift card, more than $5,000, more than the privacy policies of Facebook.
“Better safe than sorry” might be a worthwhile tool in evaluating what to share on social media, but it may be that we need to be much safer with our words, so that we will not be sorry we have wasted them away.