Living faithful, fruitful and fulfilled on the mission field

Social Media On The Mission Field-Tweaks & Tips

Social Media On The Mission Field-Tweaks & Tips
“Missionaries arrested and jailed” were the newspaper headlines.  What caused this? Unwise use of social media on the mission field.
This headline referred to a group of short-term missionaries. These missionaries were working with an organization I provide training for. The girls suffered quite a bit, as did the national leader who was trying to help them. Finally, they were released and deported. For months afterward, the indigenous leader had headache after headache. Inquiries kept coming from the police about his Christian activities. The reason was his lack of knowledge in an important area. He was not very wise about the proper use of social media on the mission field.
 
A month ago I posted a guest blog from Friends Network. It was called 2 Ways To Keep Your Email and Internet Secure on the Field. If you haven’t read that yet, please do! This blog builds on that one.
 
In today’s article, Friend’s Network once again helps us out. You’ll find tips and tweaks about the secure use of social media on the mission field.  Find out what to do, and not do, in this important area of modern life.

Facebook And Other Social Media

I am shocked at how openly some people post things on Facebook and other social media sites. The worst offenders (as in the example above) are often short-term teams. They visit missionaries and post things about their ministry on Facebook. Make sure you ban short termers and visiting teams from doing this! They should not post anything about missions or your ministry on their Facebook!
 
It should go without saying but let’s be clear. Some kinds of things are especially big triggers for non-Christians. Don’t post this kind of picture on your Facebook!  social media on the mission field
 
Unless you are working in a very open country where the gospel is completely free to spread, be cautious. Did you know that if your Facebook isn’t secure, anyone you friend has access to you and all your other friends! Even though you might not be posting about missions, your friends may be!
 
What can you do to make your Facebook and other social media accounts as secure as possible?
 

3 Quick Social Media And Facebook Tune-Ups

1) Search for yourself on Google or other search engines. Clean up all public information that links you to missions.

Do this before you get on the field in a closed country. In fact, do it before you apply for your visa to go there. You would be surprised what people post about you!

2) Secure Your Facebook account.

Go to settings > privacy > Who can see your friends list.
I highly suggest you select ‘only me’ or at the very least ‘friends except acquaintances’.
 
Get a separate Facebook account to use with new friends in the country you work in. Or, add them as acquaintances and give them limited access. Don’t post anything on your Facebook account about missions. Unless of course, you work in a country that is very open to the gospel.
 
You can also create a private page for your ministry which can only be viewed by people you add. Just know that Facebook could still turn that information over to a government. So, how much you use this will depend on the level of anti-Christian feeling in the country you are serving in.
 
In many countries, anti-missionary feelings are on the rise. Error on the side of caution when it comes to Facebook and what you post.
 
You can choose to join the secret Facebook group for Missionary Life. That is a safer place for you to post and ask questions than to comment on the Facebook public page we have. But, if you are in a highly restricted nation, please don’t even do that!

3) Have an online presence for your stated role in the country.

If you are doing business, have a lot of social media posts about your business. Governments have questioned missionaries because of their lack of online presence!

Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Other Social Media

Twitter is a very open communication system. I advise against posting on Twitter under your own name if you are in a restricted access country. You can use a different name for your twitter account and even a different picture.
 
If you want to use Twitter here are some tips.
 
Go to your account settings under Privacy and Safety.
– Uncheck the box about Tweet Location
– Under photo tagging check the box – Do not allow anyone to tag you by photo
– Uncheck both boxes on discoverability
– Under personalization data click on “edit.” Then click “disable all.”
Make sure you then save these settings.
 
Instagram and Pinterest. For these, you should follow very similar procedures as mentioned above about Facebook.
 

Alternative Communication

1) WhatsApp

There are methods of communicating with people who are both very secure and widely used. The best of these is WhatsApp.
 
WhatsApp is an end-to-end encrypted messaging service. This means that not even WhatsApp can see or turn your messages over to any government. You can safely communicate with friends and supporters directly. Just make sure you keep your phone locked. Also be careful not to add the wrong contacts to groups that they shouldn’t be in!
 
* Please note that in certain countries in the Middle East, even WhatsApp is unwise to use freely. Check in with local leaders and friends to find out which system is safest if you are working there.

2. Zoom

Zoom is also a secure end-to-end encrypted video calling service. It lets you stay in touch with people all over the world. I highly recommend it over Skype. They have been known to collaborate with governments in spying on users conversations.
 

Don’t Be Fearful, But Be Wise

 
In the last blog about this, we wrote, “Do all that you can do to secure your communication, but don’t give in to fear or worry.” It bears repeating.
 
The enemy wants us to be paranoid, silenced and hiding. Don’t give in to that. At the same time, Jesus told us to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matt. 10:16 NIV
 
Don’t ruin your ability to do what God called you to do simply because you were unwise about social media.
 
If you found this helpful, please forward the link to your friends! Send it to short-term volunteers and visitors coming to work with you as well. Encourage them to do these social media tweaks before they ever arrive to work with you.
 

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