Our days on social media are numbered

Prompted by the events of the day, this is a text exchange that @jtbayly and I had about five minutes ago…


Rev. Lucas Weeks:

I’m doubling down on Christians should be able to filter the internet on the devices they own so that there is no access to porn without disabling the filter. The more I think about it, the more I think it’s utterly ridiculous that we would accept any other reality.

But as I build it out, I’m realizing what it means. No twitter, for instance.

Youtube still works, but there are often perfectly good videos that I cannot access.

Just because of how they were categorized when they were created.

But I think it’s a price we should be willing to pay.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

what category? Not 18+ presumably

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

No, no.

But, for instance, Aaron Jones posted a video of his interview with James Lindsay:

It’s just two people talking, and there probably aren’t even any swear words.

But I get this message: “This video is restricted. Please check the Google Workspace administrator and/or the network administrator restrictions.”

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

I was just talking to Alex about this sort of thing.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

And I’m sure its because I enforce the setting “strict filtered”

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

What I told him is that I’ve gotten disenchanted with DNS filters as it seems like all of them are controlled by liberals.

So homophobia is one of the blocked categories.

I’m guessing this video is blocked because Google considers it conservative.

Seriously.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

You’re absolutely right about the problem you’re seeing.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Actually, there’s no video there, though.

Or else I have to sign in to view it.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

And I don’t have a solution for the problem of who controls the DNS filters.

But, at least in this case, I lay most of the blame on Google.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

But Google is just another liberal tech co.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Same problem there. It has a play button, but it just says “Waiting for radiofriendly”

It’s like a live-only event.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Huh. Well, I just assumed I couldn’t watch it because of my filters. I’ll ask him about it.

The filter I’m using, Cleanbrowsing, does have a Hate Speech category that I can turn off or on.

And it says it uses the UK’s counter-terrrorism unit’s classification of hate speech. Which is, I’m sure, terrible.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Yeah.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

So I grant you the problem you’ve raised. But it doesn’t change my mind in the slightest.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Nor mine.

I’m in agreement.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

And I’m all for other kinds of filters, but the only ones I’ve seen that approximate what I’m going for is these DNS ones.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

But I feel stuck.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Yep

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

What am I supposed to do, recommend people install a filter that will quite possibly block Warhorn Media later this year?

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

It’s a good question, and we haven’t started thinking about seriously soon enough.

Like, as in, our days are numbered. And we need to get moving.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

I’m starting to think filters are untenable

(again)

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Ha.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

You must filter with decisions. Self-control.

There’s no barricade around the red light district. You just don’t walk down there.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Keep talking, because I’m about to puke.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

The difference is ease of access and anonymity.

Which is huge.

Another difference is proof that we don’t have the self-control.

Also loss of cultural shame.

But go back to Corinth and there was no shame and it was as easy to access.

Still not anonymous, though.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Dude.

I’m totally with you. But IN MY OWN BEDROOM.

Why should I be IN the red-light district in my bedroom?

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

What I’ve been thinking recently is that the huckster in our living room has morphed to that pornographer in your pocket.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Yes…

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Or that pervert

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Yes… so what are we going to do about it?

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

I’m just spitballing here, but…

shoot your phone?

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

LOL

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Michal did.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Well, I’m certainly willing.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Heidi’s reading a book that I wouldn’t be surprised if it makes her.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

But I guess I’m not convinced filters are untenable.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

She keeps telling me things that I have to struggle not to laugh or roll my eyes about.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

What is the book?

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates don’t let their kids have phones!

They use psychological tricks to get you to salivate at the ding

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

(Wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the one Hannah read.)

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

I’m turning off notifications.

etc etc.

Probably is.

Michal probably read it too.

No idea what it’s called.

I haven’t had the heart to say anything more than, “You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know.”

The only filters that are tenable are whitelists.

That’s how bad the internet is.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Fine.

I don’t mind that.

Seriously.

Let’s make a big whitelist database.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

I don’t mind it either.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

I’m thinking out loud.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Can I post this whole conversation on SV? As the topic of conversation?

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Sure.

But even a whitelist can’t be the same for kids, teens, and adults.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Correct.

And it will be arbitrary.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

I just don’t know how to do it.

There are too many websites.

I can’t be constantly clicking, getting blocked, adding it to the whitelist.

I think the biggest problem is getting people off of TickTock, Twitter, FB and IG.

Kill the expectation that Christians can be on those platforms and suddenly the landscape is very different.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Yeah. That is huge. And there have to be other places for people to go to do something similar to what they’re already doing on those Social media sites.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

Shouting at each other?

and being voyeurs?

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

I’m not saying there needs to be a Christian Instagram clone, but places where people talk with one another and share stuff.

Rev. Joseph Bayly:

lol

I know.

Rev. Lucas Weeks:

Like, maybe a discussion forum… :wink:

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The book I’m reading is “How to Break Up with Your Phone.” :grinning:. I do wonder about the internet and social media being like television, where the medium is the message.

How long before this forum is censored? Do we have a backup?

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Great question. Should be fully answered here (for citizens only). Short answer is yes we have a backup.

https://sanity.warhornmedia.com/t/communication-in-an-age-of-persecution/214

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Ahh. How do I become a citizen?

Oops. I thought you were. Sorry.

Good stuff.

I have been off of “social media” for a couple-three years now. I have absolutely zero regrets in leaving.

The only thing that gets annoying is when church people start talking about the latest controversy in Christendom, and I am out of the loop. But the thing is, a lot of that “controversy” that eats up our time is pertaining to things that really don’t concern us. So much of it is just the latest buzz on this thing or that thing, or following our celebrity pastors, etc.

Long before I started thinking about media censorship and the myth of net-neutrality, and after I started thinking about the ways we are addicted to our phones, the thing that really convinced me that social media needed to go was in seeing the flame wars and it produced among Christians, and the way the information age has in so many ways subverted the local church.

There was once a time when I was super enthusiastic about the idea of social media. Wow, you mean I have access to all of these people, and I can share Scripture, write exhortations, proclaim the gospel, share sermon links, etc.? But over time, it became clear to me that social media inevitably works every man into their own personal echo chamber – if for no other reason then because that’s what it takes to keep people coming back for their dopamine fix.

And if you leave your echo chamber on social media, it’s just a flame war. Flame war, flame war, flame war. And then our news agencies don’t actually do any reporting anymore. They just provide commentary on Twitter flame wars. It’s nauseating.

I am still thankful for the tool that the internet is, of course. But while I used to think about the internet optimistically as an instrumental tool that would fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord (Habakkuk 2:14), now it’s more just a reminder that there is nothing new under the sun.

On another note, I also have had all my phone notifications turned off for years (except phone calls). This, too, I have zero regrets on. I’m already slave enough to my phone than to have to answer its every beckon.

Also, it wasn’t long after I turned off social media that I was turned on to the then-recently created Sanityville, and I have been very thankful for it. This really is my only social media outlet, and it’s proven far more edifying in my life than the fruit I gleaned in the decade I spent on Facebook. The format of what we do here – even down to the way this forum is moderated – feels fitting to what social media for Christians ought to look like. And part of that has to do with the forum life not being disconnected from the authority of the church, or regard for the local church.

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One more thought. The DNS and filtering thing has been on my radar recently, as I now have an older child whom we have allowed more freedom on the internet.

I did tinker with some free DNS services, but haven’t really been impressed – but nor have I gone out of my way to test their efficacy. Moreover, it makes total sense that that which Christians regard as good will not match what the world calls good – even the moralistic world.

Honestly though, given my knowledge of the internet as both a millennial and a network engineer, the sad reality is that pornography is so ubiquitous and can be found literally anywhere if you are determined to find it. Short of strict URL or domain whitelisting (which isn’t really viable to maintain internet usability), I believe it is actually impossible to keep a determined person from finding some way to indulge their lust through pursuit of erotic images on the internet. I am inclined to agree with Joseph’s point about the red light district. The reality is that it exists, and nothing is ultimately going to keep a Christian from going there except that he be putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit.

Nevertheless, there are certainly pro-active things which the believer can do to “make no provision for the flesh.” I have known brothers who got rid of their smart phones and went to flip phones specifically as a means of making no provision for their flesh. For others, it could be as simple as making a rule for yourself that you will never take your phone into the bathroom with you.

The anonymity aspect of the accessibility of pornography is, indeed, the most concerning to me. At the same time, I think people deceive themselves when they believe their internet activity is as anonymous as they think it is. While most cookie-type activity may be anonymous, data-mining, demographic information sold to marketing companies, we are naive if we think our browsing activity isn’t personally identifiable to someone (though, again, as a network engineer, my imagination can come up with some pretty decent loopholes). Interestingly though, I think most men of our generation actually already understand this, yet remain willing to risk viewing pornography as long as it isn’t the church who finds out.

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I’m not sure if you fellows are on iOS, but I use the app Vox. It doesn’t advertise this ability but if you have a YouTube link in your clipboard when you open the app, it offers to play it. Audio only. Which should give you access to lectures that are getting flagged, without opening the Pandora’s box. I’ve found it very helpful, since I had my wife set up a white list using Apple’s screen time controls, and YouTube isn’t on the list.

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Wow! That’s really neat. Thanks for sharing.

Alternate social media might not be allowed to exist:

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So Parler has no moderation at all?

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They say they do. Don’t know what it is. Who cares though? Signal doesn’t have moderation at all.

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Does Sanityville have an app?

(This is partly a technical question. I don’t know exactly how the installed thing on my Android phone works. It looks like an app, sometimes.)

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We do not have an app. Or more accurately, we only have Discourse’s built-in web app that you see on Android.

There is an official Discourse app for iOS devices that you can add any Discourse site to. However, the main reason to do so is to support push notifications, which Apple doesn’t allow in web apps. We aren’t hosted by Discourse (the company) so push notifications don’t work for Sanityville anyway.

Here’s a less helpful hint. It is possible to have a fairly clean Instagram feed. I joined IG for one specific purpose: to track a few small businesses which post some product announcements exclusively or early on IG. I don’t post and don’t follow any people.

After hiding or blocking the smut, my feed is surprisingly clean. A strategy I used–I don’t know if it helped–was to not hide/block anything which wasn’t smut. So I have to tolerate posts about race cars, impractical guns, tattoos, pet idolatry, … I figured if I cut them some slack, they’ll be less likely to try to show me stuff similar to what I’ve already hidden or blocked.

I think I also figured out how to only get notifications from the specific companies I follow. Initially, I was also getting posts by strangers who merely tagged the companies I was following. I have the Instagram app configured to send notifications, so I have no need to go there to browse or check in on anything.

I don’t recommend IG.

Well this turned out to be very timely

So Sanityville (Discourse) is a good example of nice mobile access without requiring an app.

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Yep. Prophetic. Trump banned from FB, Twitter. Parler kicked out of the google play store and threatened on iOS. Let’s pray that this insanity stops.

Just build your own financial system.

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