Censorship by Big Tech

I’m old enough to remember a brand-new invention called “electronic mail.” Now, social media is very close to taking over our lives. Let’s talk.

As far back as 2019, Ray Fowler on his blog “RayFowler.org” wrote this as his theology of social media. He said,

“We use Google to try to feel omniscient like God. God knows all things and with Google we feel like we can know all things as well. We use Facebook to try to feel omnipresent like God. God is in all places at all times and with Facebook we feel like we can be present everywhere as well. We use Amazon to try to feel omnipotent like God. God can do all things effortlessly and with Amazon we feel like we can get anything we want with a single click. And Twitter? Well, Twitter is just the Devil.”
I want to talk to you about the topic in the news today, the censorship issues of big tech, the major social media platforms and their willingness to determine what you and I can see and read in order to determine what you and I think. Let me give you some examples.

Last summer, Amazon refused to show a documentary film written and directed and narrated by noted African-American scholar Shelby Steele. It was a critique of group-think and the way mobs follow a narrative even against all evidence. The documentary was called “What Killed Michael Brown.” But because the documentary, of an African-American historian, didn’t fit the politically correct narrative of the left, Amazon wouldn’t even allow to be broadcast.

Reddit. You may or not be familiar with Reddit. But Reddit is called the frontpage of the internet. They have community groups where people gather electronically around certain topics or common interests. Reddit, since July of 2020, has selectively eliminated more than 2,000 community groups that they deem “unacceptable.”  What’s interesting is not that just the 2,000 groups that they eliminated, but it’s the kinds of groups they’ve allowed to stay.

Google. Did you know that when you produce intellectual information in a Google document, do you know that you don’t own that document? Google can come in and delete your Google documents at any time that they determine that those documents violate their community standards. In fact, that’s exactly what has happened. They have deleted, without notice to the content providers, a number of medical research documents over the course of the last year for no other reason than those documents show research that contradicts the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control. In other words, subjects like: Hydroxychloroquine and other research avenues have been completely censored from the conversation about how to handle the COVID 19 pandemic. It seems to me the scientific method always called for as much information as possible and for everything to be examined on a level playing field. Except that’s not the way it works at Google.

Facebook. Facebook has been charged with a couple of lawsuits that are underway. They have been charged with impacting the 2020 election by the information they refused to allow readers to have access to. We now know that “Fact Checkers,” the ones that determine what information is correct and what information is false; those Fact Checkers are not wise old men with life experience sitting in front of library of thousands of books researching to find the truth. These Fact Checkers tend to be twenty-three-year old ideologs who are given strict guidelines and eliminate things based solely on vocabulary. In other words, if you use the words that the Truth Checkers deem inappropriate, nobody will ever see your work.

It’s gone even further in a feud with the Australian government.  Just this week Facebook unfriended Australia. They have eliminated the ability of Australian businesses to advertise on Facebook. And they have blocked access to Facebook pages for a number of organizations even including a children’s hospital. Facebook has the power to force an entire nation to its knees.
Well, there’s Twitter. Twitter is most famous for banning a New York Post article before the election that gave damning revelations about Hunter Biden. The candidate for President on the Democratic side, his son, there were emails that the Post found that showed a pattern of corruption and criminal activity that Twitter didn’t allow to be communicated on its platform. You couldn’t share it. You couldn’t find it. The information was kept out of the public eye until after the election. We hear a lot of people worried about the Russians and Chinese tinkering with our election process, but it seems to me like that the only tinkering going here is in Silicon Valley.
Twitter banned Donald Trump for life because they didn’t like what he had to say. And yet, for all of their protestations that they’re simply trying to maintain a balance of truth, they still, if you look on Twitter, they still allow the account of the ruler of Iran, who is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism on the planet. But Donald Trump was mean, so he had to go.

Censorship today is a living breathing example of what George Orwell told us about in 1984, where he described in his fictional account of the state, a branch of the government called the Ministry of Truth. The Ministry of Truth determined truth to be whatever the state needed it to be, changing actual statements to the public on a daily basis and sometimes hour by hour. The truth was shifted. It was altered. It was changed to fit the narrative that the government needed in order to maintain control of its citizens.

Censorship today is primarily ideological and political. It is only a matter of time until the giants who decide what is acceptable for you to read and to discuss turn their sites to religious conversations. If you’ve watched the story of the pastor in Canada just this week, arrested for holding church in the face of their pandemic restrictions. This Alberta, Canada pastor was marched out of the court room in handcuffs and ankle chains. What was his crime? He unlocked the door of his church and invited his people to worship God.

Well, what do we do? There will be increasing legislative battles on this issue in the days ahead. We need to be aware of those and let our representatives understand our position that we would like to promote. We need to look at establishing and supporting alternative platforms so that the monopoly of Google and Amazon and Twitter and Facebook are broken by other legitimate competitors.

Most of all, most importantly what I think we should do is we need to once again strengthen actual human community. We need to move beyond digital relationships back to face to face interactions with real living breathing humans. If we could only figure out a way to do that. Oh wait. God created this thing called the Church. And the Church is His supernatural strategy to do exactly what needs to happen in our generation to bring people together where they can learn, where they can discuss, where they can be strengthened by human interaction. We need to invite people. We need to make the Church the center of community once again and not the little screen on our phones that so often cuts us off from real life human interaction.

We also need to decide in our own minds, as followers of Jesus, that we will determine an absolute refusal to submit to the tyranny of censorship.

You say, “Well, this has never happened before. This is an unprecedented situation.” No actually, let me give you some Biblical examples real quickly so you can see that believers have always faced these kinds of challenges. In 1 Kings 18 the prophet Elijah had an interesting conversation with the king. His name was Ahab. In 1 Kings 18:17 it says, “When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, "Is this you, you troubler of Israel?" Some translations say, “the one ruining Israel.” Others say, “the one who brings disaster to Israel.” What had happened was Elijah was simply telling the truth. But because the truth bothered the government in power, they blamed Elijah for the nation’s problems.

That’s an interesting strategy that you’re going to see in our generation. We’re being led to believe that the critics of this are the problem. That we are the troublers of our day. When in fact Elijah gives the answer in response. In verse 18 he replied, “I have not ruined Israel, but you and your father’s family have, because you have abandoned the LORD’s commands and followed the Baals.” Elijah said, “Listen, you can call me the problem. But I’m not the problem. The problem here is you’ve left God to pursue idols and false gods.”

Listen, we as Christians have to stop being embarrassed or hesitant about being a part of the conversation in the public square. Because the problem here is not that we’re out of step with society. The problem in our generation is that our society is out of step with God.

Well, let’s go to Jeremiah 38. A different prophet, a different historical moment but a similar story because here’s a prophet telling truth when the government doesn’t like the truth that’s being told. In Jeremiah 38:2,3 this is the prophet’s message.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Whoever stays in this city will die by the sword, famine, and plague, but whoever surrenders to the Chaldeans will live. He will retain his life like the spoils of war and will live.’ This is what the LORD says.”

But in verse 4 we hear this.

“The officials then said to the king, “This man ought to die, because he is weakening the morale of the warriors who remain in this city and of all the people by speaking to them in this way. This man is not pursuing the welfare of this people, but their harm.”

In other words, the truth teller, they charged him with trying to damage the nation by telling the truth. Why? Because the truth didn’t fit the narrative that the government was trying to promote. We need to make a decision. Will we be submissive to our government no matter what? Or will we be a people who stand by truth?

The problem in our generation is not that Christians are out of step. It’s that our society is out of step with God.

One more. Acts 4, 5. This is still yet another story in the New Testament. These are the disciples who are arrested by the leaders, by the rulers of their generation. And in Acts 4:16,17 it says,

“What should we do with these men?” These are the politicians talking.

“What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again. So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”

There was a miracle that they didn’t deny. They didn’t deny the truth of the statements but they had to threaten the disciples because they couldn’t let that truth get out because it contradicted the narrative that the government wanted to propose.

Well, in chapter 5 we have the answer that the disciples gave in return. And this is where we have to stand. In Acts 5:29,32 it says, “Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Folks, social media will only control our lives, it will only censor what we think and read if we allow it. We’re followers of Jesus.  We are keepers and purveyors of truth. They’re going to come after us because they’re going to say “You’re out of step with society.” And our answer in return is, “No, no. You, society, you’re out of step with Almighty God.” That is our stand. That’s what’s coming

This is TruthCurrents.

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