by Elder Sim Chee Seng
DISCERNING FAKE NEWS
Firstly, beware of news from social media. Do not use social media eg Facebook alone as your news source. Many of such sites aim to keep you “clicking” for personal financial gain. These sites tweak your news feed so that you get small bites of news you like with limited perspective. Also do not depend on your friends only for news. Read broadly and check other sources for different viewpoints.
Secondly, questioned if it is news or propaganda. Every news organization has its particular bias or philosophy in reporting. Consult multiple reputable news sources and try to diversify your news consumption. Learn to differentiate between quality news and propaganda.
Thirdly, always consider the source of news. Some countries monopolize news through direct media ownership or severe restrictions. Be wary of blogs or articles without author attribution or funny domain names eg “.co” Consult Wikipedia for listing of sites of fake news.
Lastly, beware of sensational headlines which are eye catching but they don’t tell the whole story. Use internet, fact-checking resources like Snopes.com or FactCheck.org, if the news is questionable or suspicious.
WHAT SHOULD BELIEVERS DO?
Firstly we need to know our Bible well. A currency expert was asked how he could tell the difference between a genuine dollar and a fake note. He replied “I do not study the fake but I study the genuine note very, very carefully. I know every details of the genuine note, so that any deviation from the real, I know is a fake.” So the same thoroughness should be applied to the learning of Biblical truths. To know if something is true or false, we need to know our Bible well. The Bible is the only inspired and infallible source of truth for us. It is the only written resource where fake news cannot reside because God cannot lie.
Secondly, we need to check all information against biblical truths. If what has been written, taught or propagated is not found in or prescribed by the Bible, we should reject it as fake news.
Thirdly, we should not propagate fake news. It is best to view all news with a certain degree of skepticism. If uncertain, it is best to wait and check than to be sorry.
Lastly, in view of Christ’s return, we need to be watchful and prayerful, seeking to know the “signs of the times of Christ’s return, ” and not be caught unaware by fake news and false teachings. (See an example how Paul dealt with the fake news in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2). Understanding that the deluge of fake news will make our spiritual journey increasingly difficult, we should earnestly seek His guidance and protection from error. (Mt 16:3 and 24:3).
SHARING THE GOOD NEWS.
By His grace, may we use this period of time wisely to fulfil His great commission “… Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:16) “ For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth…” (Rom 1:16) “ To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God…” (Acts 26:18) The Gospel is the good news of Christ that mankind needs to hear.
We are living in the last days. “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.” (1 John 2:18). There is increasing Satanic opposition to biblical truths and the preaching of the Gospel. (1 John 2:22) Therefore, it is important to know the Bible well in order to counteract fake news or errors. The Bible will reveal to us the “signs of times” of Christ’s return. Meanwhile, we must share the Gospel and “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3). We need to follow Paul’s example “ … (renouncing) the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2) We too renounce falsehood and speak the truth before God. So, let us boldly claim His promise ” If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) Amen.