Three Questions To Ask Before You Post Something On Facebook

Facebook and Twitter can be fantastic tools for communication, encouragement, laughter, playing Farmville, posting pictures of your cute dog “Eloise”, and general rollicking goodness. But, like every good gift, there can also be a dark side to social media. An unhelpful side. A sinful side. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you post something on Facebook or Twitter.

Is It True?

Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” When posting something as fact, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I know the whole story?” and, “Is it possible that there is another side to this story?” Gossip and slander thrive on half-truths, so we always want to make sure that we have the whole story before posting something as true and factual. This is especially (!!!) true when saying anything about another person. As Mark Twain (or Winston Churchill or Charles Spurgeon, depending on your source) famously said: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

Is It Helpful?

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The things that we post on Facebook and Twitter should have a positive, grace-giving, non-corrupting effect on others. Before we post something we should ask, “Will this help others by encouraging them, making them laugh, inviting them to pray, giving them grace, etc?” Something may be true and yet still be unhelpful. I know that I’ve said things online that have not been helpful for other people, and I regret that. Please correct me if something I post isn’t helpful.

Will This Affect Others Negatively?

This is a little more subjective, but I think that it’s worth considering. When we post something we need to think about how it will affect others. So, for example, if I post an article about Barack Obama (I never do, but that’s not the point), there are two ways I could do it. I could post the article along with an angry, sarcastic comment about how much I hate our government and the general intelligence level of our governing officials. Or, I could post the article and state my disagreement in a way that won’t inflame people to anger or bitterness and is respectful toward Barack Obama.

It’s really important to think about these things because the way we talk about issues has a real effect on other people and can even lead people into sin. If I speak about something in an emotional, angry, inflamed, sarcastic, bitter way, other people will be led to respond in the same way. In Mark 9:42 Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Yikes! Those are serious words. I want to take the words I put online more seriously, because they have a real effect on others.

I’m a big fan of Facebook and Twitter. But I want to grow in posting things that give grace to others. Because my words matter, including the ones I type.

(+photo via)

Comments

  1. says

    Well said. To your list, I would add a question something like this: "Am I willing for anyone to read this at any time for many years to come?" Few people realize that their pictures and posts are permanently "out there" for the world to see.

  2. Adam M. Jones says

    This is an excellent reminder not just for our social media interactions but also for our every day interpersonal interactions.
    Thanks!

  3. Ron Wells says

    Short and to the point! Perfect!

    It would be great if everyone followed these simple precepts, not just on social media, but in their daily interactions. The world would be a different place!

    Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Matt says

    Thanks for this, Stephen. One that you could probably add as a fourth: (At least, God has been convicting me heavily of this in the past year)
    Philippians 2:14: "Do everything without complaining or arguing"

    By far the majority of comments on facebook are complaining, whining, or grumbling about something. I noticed that my posts were that way too. If we use facebook as a tool of communication, keeping-in-touch, encouragement, or discipleship, it's great! But if we simply use it as a tool for complaining, it just becomes an outlet for unnoticed sin.

  5. Abraham Sherman says

    Those are three excellent points. In addition to those, I always find Proverbs 26:4-5 rattling around in the back of my mind.

    "4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes."

    It seems that verse four encourages us not to stoop to the level of fools when correcting them, and verse five says that fools must be answered or they will go on thinking they know everything. Combining those two verses with the three guidelines listed above should result in productive discussions, edification and strengthening of the Body of Christ and the Lord's fame in the world.

  6. Susan K. says

    This brings to mind lots of things about how we represent our affiliations online, in church and elsewhere. Would someone get the impression from me that he/she must be college-educated to encounter Christ in my church? A Republican? A Steelers fan? The more I remember to present myself as a fan but not a fanatic, a listener first, not a pronouncer, the more, I hope, I can leave room for Christ in my conversations with those who do not know me and, especially, those do not know Him.

  7. Scott says

    I notice that your only choices about Obama are vitriolic disagreement or courteous disagreement. Do you think that Christians should more openly support the president just because he's the president (Romans 13), even if we don't agree with his policies and voted for someone else?

  8. Dave says

    Of the things we think, say or do …
    Is it the TRUTH?
    Is it FAIR to all concerned?
    Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
    Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

    If you are a Rotarian, you should be able to cite The Four Way Test from memory. Good words to live by …

  9. says

    "Will This Affect Others Negatively?" I know this happened before Facebook but I wonder if C.J. Mahaney thought about this question before he slandered Larry Tomczak and C.J. even said he would rather be "dead" than do what Larry did? It later came out that C.J. Mahaney had blackmailed Larry Tomczak.

    Is C.J. Mahaney's actions an example of what not to do?

  10. says

    Great post, a lot of heartache would be saved if we asked those three simple questions. What's scary about social media is a) it's easy to "say" things to large groups of people without having to look them in the eye, and b) as was mentioned in a previous comment, it's permanent. What we say stays online forever. The inability to communicate tone, nuance, etc. with the written word is also a reason to take extra caution with what we post. Thanks for these reminders!

  11. ron says

    We should consider this also. Would we be able to share our post with Jesus. Just a thought and the three questions are so true.

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  1. […] Three Questions to Ask Before You Post Something to Facebook- These are simple but important questions to ask before you post something you’ll regret. “like every good gift, there can also be a dark side to social media. An unhelpful side. A sinful side. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you post something on Facebook or Twitter.” […]

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