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This topic is adapted from the Scott Creps YouTube channel.

For a long time, we had “real news” and “non-news.” Real news is things like election results, a natural disaster, or local crime. Non-news is more lighthearted, things like a hotel dog who brings fresh towels to the guests, a viral video of a cat playing a keyboard, and other fun things to take the edge off of all the tough stuff reported daily.

Unfortunately, things have shifted in recent months. Now there is near-constant talk of “fake news.”

The Dawn of Fake News

You’ve probably heard about the extremely popular fake news stories that made their way into our facebook feeds during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. There were fake news stories about voter fraud, the Kremlin, rumors about the candidates and their supporters, and countless other sensationalized stories.

Fake news is difficult to uncover. It looks like all the other news out there. Nick Bilton with Vanity Fair has written recently that this all still in the beginning stages. Soon, there will be video that is able to manipulate facial features in real time. And adobe is working on a Photoshop for sound. After ten minutes of recording a person’s voice you can make them say anything.

[Related Resource: Fake News Is About to Get Even Scarier Than You Ever Dreamed]

Why Do People Create Fake News?

People create fake news for several main reasons.

  • For profit. One man in Los Angeles said he made up to $30,000 a month by producing fake news.
  • For politics. You can spread a negative message about the opposition. Because many people are unable to tell truth from falsity, damage is often done even if the story is later proven untrue.
  • For fear: Imagine a new kind of terrorism based on the mass appeal of misinformation disguised as truth.
  • Fake news is a reality in our world. Over time it’s probably going to affect the way we look at the world and make decisions about truth and reality.

How Do You Fight Fake News?

We must be diligent about what we share on social media, in person, or in other ways. Fact-check. Track down sources. Use critical thinking skills to discern truth from falsity, and don’t share something just because it reinforces your bias. Spreading lies dishonors the Lord Jesus and is a crummy way to live our lives.

Matthew 5:37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

In Jesus’ day people were swearing to all kinds of things, Jerusalem, the temple, their own homes or their children. Based on what they swore on, they could get out of their promises. Jesus says just say “yes” or “no.” Tell the truth. Be honest. Be a person of integrity. Fake news will affect our culture. People will be fine with spreading white lies or smearing the truth. If we allow dishonesty to creep more and more into our lives and culture, where will this take us?

Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Contribute to integrity in your personal life and in society.

Written content for this topic by Scott Creps and Daniel Martin.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. What’s the most ridiculous fake news story you’ve heard?
  4. What does God think of fake news? Why?
  5. What has been your reaction to the rise of fake news? Is it something you actively combat, does it all seem too complicated to bother getting involved with, or something else?
  6. Have you ever spread a story that later turned out to be untrue? What did you learn from that experience?
  7. Why is it hard to hear stories that challenge our views? Why is it easy to believe and talk about stories that reinforce our views?
  8. Read Proverbs 16:27-29. Why is fake news more than simple truth-stretching?
  9. If fakes news continues on unimpeded, what sort of implications will it have for our society?
  10. What can you do practically to combat fake news as it manifests in your own life?
  11. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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