Facebook is not a tool


(Joseph Bayly) #1

Before WW1, Germany knew they needed to be able to get into France quickly if war broke out. France had heavily fortified the border between them though, so Germany’s plan was to go through Belgium instead. They expected to use Belgium’s infrastructure—roads, bridges, tunnels, and especially railroads—to get access to France. However, when the day came, Belgium wasn’t cool with the Germans marching through their neutral country, so they didn’t let Germany use their infrastructure. They blew up the bridges, tunnels and railroads. They hunkered down in their few forts and started mowing down the Germans as they tried to march through.

Facebook is not a tool. Nor is it a technology. Rather, it is a technology company—one that is large enough and powerful enough to be its own country. And that company, like most of the tech companies, has a philosophy and leadership that are directly opposed to Christianity. If and when faithful Christian doctrine becomes “hate speech” in the USA, Facebook is not going to remain a neutral power in the conflict. They will kick us off in a heartbeat. If Christians don’t build their own communications infrastructure right now, we won’t have any communication abilities to speak of when that day comes.

Those who think of FB as a tool for reaching people are confusing the railroad with the country through which the railroad runs. The uneasy truce that exists right now may allow you access to those people for the time being, but when that truce falls, you should not naively assume that Facebook will let us through. Germany was hoping for Belgium to do that, but they had a fallback plan of bringing in (really) big guns. I am unaware of any big guns in our arsenal, the ERLC notwithstanding.

If your plan for world domination of the gospel includes using Facebook’s infrastructure, your plan is doomed.

What is your plan for communication after Facebook kicks you off? Have you started working toward it?


(Jon Swerens) #2

So, you’re looking for the Church’s anti-fragile communication plans. Very good.

Also, what are Warhorn’s plans for book publishing if Ingram / Amazon decides your content does not deserve access to the marketplace?

(Ahh, if you need to break this into a separate thread, go ahead. But I think there are a lot of overlapping concerns with print and web.)


(Joseph Bayly) #3

I’m not that worried about print. Perhaps I should be, but I don’t think it would be that hard to find a printer, since their name isn’t really connected with the book.


(Valerie) #5

It’s not the printing so much as the distribution, though.

(This platform has some really annoying “features.”)


(Bnonn Tennant) #6

I’m concerned about infrastructure in general. A majority of websites use hosting companies like Amazon who are openly hostile to Christianity. But what companies aren’t hostile to Christianity? For instance, I don’t host my blog on S3 or anything similar; I use a small hosting company in the US. But what are the chances that they will like my blog? If they took the time to peruse it (say, if someone called their attention to it in the hope of having it removed), they would probably be offended and may well decide not to platform it.

The same is true of email services. I use Drip at the moment, but judging from the host of one of their last training videos, they are a bastion of feminism. I doubt they’d think twice about shutting down my account for objectionable content.

In one sense, that’s perfectly fair. Why should a company provide a platform for a competing religion? What accord has Belial with Christ? The problem is that Christians haven’t created, or at least widely publicized, alternatives.


(Joseph Bayly) #7

Hence my raising this concern. If Christians take for granted their ability to use the infrastructure of those who hate them, it will be a major problem in the end. Take the large FB group of pastors I’m a part of. If FB kicked them off, they wouldn’t even have a list of names, let alone email addresses in order to reassemble the group elsewhere. So what’s my recommendation? Move? Not necessarily, but at least collect names and email addresses, right now and going forward.

In your case, you’d at least be able to move to another email platform, assuming you’ve backed up your list. Email is not (yet) under the control of a single company. For this reason, email is far superior to Facebook.

I’d like to see a list of solid recommendations develop here. I think we’ve got the right people here to produce an anti-fragile checklist for Christians.


(Bnonn Tennant) #8

The first item on the checklist has to be redundancy. Back up often, and possibly back up to multiple locations. What if your backup provider turns out to hate you as well? Have lots of baskets for your eggs.

One problem with backups, of course, is that they just about all use Dropbox or Amazon for storage. Local backups are fine for a third layer, but you can’t rely on them since local disasters will destroy them.

It’s a vexed situation to be sure.

I wonder if we have the resources here to do more than just create a checklist. Just floating the idea, do we have enough expertise to potentially start creating alternative platforms? What kind of folks do we have squirreled away on this board?


(Jon Swerens) #9

Can we trust those providers who pledge privacy? Bitcoin? Minds.com? VPN? There are a number of technologies that have baked in privacy for their users.


(Joseph Bayly) #10

Potentially, but I think we need to figure out the list first. Then maybe we can figure out where the biggest strategic gains can be made.

I’m not that worried about backups in terms of being deplatformed. Just encrypt them before upload. (Backblaze is another company with their own storage, by the way.)

Can’t take them at face value. For example, VPN’s cannot prove their claims. Bitcoin’s vaunted privacy turned out to be an empty claim. However, encryption is a solid, provable technological tool.


(Jon Swerens) #11

Maybe one step is to just gather together people from Facebook groups and the like into already existing end-to-end-encryption sites. Establish separate channels with Signal or Telegram. Thinking out loud here.


(John M. ) #12

This is a great discussion. I have a couple of comments:

  1. Anyone using a Facebook Group for Christian stuff should immediately switch to an email list. You will lose certain conveniences, but email lists are much less fragile than Facebook.
  2. Various folks on the far right are already creating alternative platforms, including Gab.com (Twitter alternative), Infogalactic (Wikipedia alternative), and FreeZoxie (Facebook alternative). VKontakt, the Russian version of Facebook, is another available platform, though not of American far-right origin.
  3. Using those tools would require us to hang out with (or at least near) some folks well outside the Overton window, including actual Nazis, or at least those who claim to be such on the Internet. On the plus side, many of these tools already have significant adoption and maturity. Gab, for example, has already been kicked off its web hosting and its payment processor and is still standing. If you build your own alternative platforms, you will have to go through those same cycles.
  4. Regarding the folks we hang around with, platforms will have to decide who is on and who is off. If you build your own, you’ll need to make decisions about that. Atheists? Pentecostals? Oneness Pentecostals? Platforms need to attract wide usage in order to be successful. That’s a push-pull for people with standards.
  5. Depending on what a person is using Facebook for, it’s still a valid platform. Evangelism, for instance, is still allowed on Facebook, and when it gets banned, it can still happen elsewhere.

(Jon Swerens) #13

Additional note:

If you’re going to switch to an email list, get yourself an encrypted email address, such as from ProtonMail. (Which reminds me that I need to see about getting off Gmail at some point.)

And I guess we shouldn’t trust companies such as MailChimp for email newsletters, so does anyone have a suggestion for that sector?


(Jonathan Drinkwater) #14

Maybe the best thing to do would be to follow the likes of the right wing and create our own tech base to use when the inevitable crackdown comes
A separate ecosystem to rival the current hosting services which have an expressly liberal agenda may be the only way forward - as the time is coming when the large hosting companies will begin to select websites they support based on their politics

Once you have the hard infrastructure in place you can then begin to build up the rest of services, otherwise like gab found, you’ll end up getting tossed around as those services you rely on to support you get pulled out from under you


(John M. ) #15

At the risk of re-litigating the last 100 or so years of American history, Christians built an entire alternative country, and called it the USA. Part of what we need to do is demand that it remain a place open to Christians.

We can’t build an alternative Internet with an alternative wire into people’s homes. The government won’t let us build a parallel banking system.

By the time we get fully kicked off Facebook and Bank of America, we’ll need to be thinking about how to make a lifestyle like the Amish.


(Bnonn Tennant) #16

I agree. I was saying to Jonathan on Facebook (heh) that any kind of alternative platform is really a short term bunker from which we need to be staging an offensive against the larger problem. If the nation as a whole is lost, nothing we do will matter. We’ll all be in prison or beheaded.


(John M. ) #17

One thing that will help is not seeing prison as some awful punishment. Criminals all treat it like a normal part of life, and we can do the same. It will suck to be the first (only) one, but once there are enough of us there, it won’t be so bad. I’ve heard that Chinese Christians refer to prison as “seminary” because they have lots of time to meditate on memorizes Scripture, and in some cases, fellowship with other imprisoned believers.


(AndreasM) #18

Even more: I think we should rejoice in such circumstances, as in Acts 5:41: They were glad they were found “worthy to suffer shame for his name”.


(Jonathan Drinkwater) #19

The irony of that only just hit me
But the usefulness of Facebook is its widespread nature and ease of use, which makes it a hard thing to replace

Social media is becoming more and more of an echo chamber for the left anyway, as those of a liberal (or should I say illiberal) disposition will mute and remove from their networks those who disagree with them, not even having to remove from the platform but by using block lists and the like…
The advantage it provided to the christian, of being a mixing ground for the saved and unsaved is rapidly reducing as friend networks become more insular.

I do see an advantage for Christians getting into the hardware side of the internet, not reproducing cable networks necessarily, but doing what we can to neuter the overreach of liberal corporations which have a vast impact without government oversight. So producing our own server farms and data centres wouldn’t be a bad idea, as it makes it harder to crack down without direct government action.

In the end though you won’t be able to stop direct government intervention. If they want to cut the cable, remove the ability to use payment facilities or require you to have the mark of the beast on you to buy and sell (#datpremil), well then you can prepare for that, but it’ll be nasty no matter what.

The internet though, by design, is a distributed network designed not to be taken out by any one action. It would be ironic in 20-30 years time to see data centres in China hosting content illegal in the USA, circumventing whatever the US version of the great firewall is. Hosting in countries friendly and getting friendlier to Christians is definitely a good plan. Much like the US hosts sites which can be accessed in the dark web for those underground in persecuted countries, they may do the same for the west.


(Zak Carter) #20

I’m no expert on this tech stuff, but I wonder whether the blockchain will solve many of these issues in the future. From what I understand, the concept is sound for creating secure and de-centralized platforms, not even controlled by whichever company writes the code. That, of course, doesn’t help us today since the platforms haven’t been built yet. There are some, like Minds.com, but I’m not sure these platforms are fully realizing the vision of what the blockchain can (theoretically) do.


(John Trocke) #21

How oh how did people ever communicate (live even!) before the internet!?!