Fighting Against Online Censorship
This year’s National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention, “Proclaim 18” focused on internet freedom. I didn’t want to miss the session about the importance of standing against online censorship, discussed in a panel setting by Family Research Counsel Leader, Tony Perkins, Radio Talk Show Hosts, Dennis Prager and Larry Elder, United States Representative Marsha Blackburn (TN), and Susan B. Anthony List President, Marjorie Denneneiser.
Blackburn shared about her experience with her own online censorship when Twitter pulled her ads that referenced her pro-life work. In a video shared on social media, she spoke against the sale of body parts from aborted babies. Twitter called her ad “inflammatory” and “likely to evoke a strong negative reaction” and pulled it. Blackburn fought the decision and Twitter reversed its course, under pressure.
Blackburn’s story sounds all too familiar. I rely on the internet to point to the Pearls of Promise website as well as events that help women heal from the past. Pearls of Promise is on both Facebook and Twitter. I co-host a radio show, “A Time to Dream,” on several different web platforms.
And I know what it is like to be censored.
For a brief period of time, Facebook shut down the Pearls of Promise ability to “boost” posts and I was in shock over the decision. When I post a link to a blog on Facebook, it only reaches a small number of people because of censorship, so I am forced to pay to reach more. Doling out money for increased coverage on this social media platform is now a part of my ministry budget.
The reason for the block by Facebook was vague, so I protested, explaining that I was a woman who was simply trying to help other women to be strong and to overcome past and current dysfunction. Something must have resonated with the Facebook “appeals court,” because my ability to boost posts was reinstated, not long after my appeal. I am grateful to the powers to be at Facebook for their change of heart.
But what I’ve seen is that the reach of my God-centered blogs is limited unless I “boost” the post by paying for increased coverage. Even then, I’ve noticed that the money I spend does not result in as wide a reach as it did a year ago. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to be a light in this world.
In December, the NRB issued an initiative called “Internet Freedom Watch.” Many others like Fox News Host Todd Starnes and national Radio Host, Dennis Prager have experienced censorship. In the NRB panel session, Prager said, “America can only prosper when we have a free flow and exchange of ideas.”
We must wake up. As Christians, we cannot passively allow our First Amendment rights to be taken away.
And it goes both ways. I have a good friend who has “challenged” some of my posts on Facebook. Even though I love this longtime friend, I thought about blocking her or hiding her comments, if possible. But then I thought, No. She has every right to express her opposing opinion, just like I have the right to express my thoughts.
And we don’t want to lose the right to freely express ourselves.
Pray about what you can do to defend our freedom of speech online, before we as Christians find ourselves “offline.”
If you want to learn more about the fight to maintain internet freedom, visit: https://internetfreedomwatch.org
Categories: Devotion of the Week