May 2018 From the Minister's High Ground
I sat this morning listening to a presentation about how social media can help target those interested in your organisation or line of work. We heard they could target people geographically, by gender, by minority interests etc. It could be very useful for businesses, charities and even the Church.
A few months ago it would have sounded wonderful and people would have said ‘how clever’. Most people did make that response this morning particularly when they heard how cheap it was for such a service. Some of us however sat muttering a phrase that recently brought disquiet to many. Cambridge Analytica has made many people question if Big Brother needs to meet with a policeman. Well, the people who ran the company helped us all with this one because they let pride get the better of them. Worse they went showing off to BBC reporters who were posing as a political party want things to go their way in a foreign country. During a number of meetings, the men from Analytica told tales about elections recently run which they had delivered for grateful clients. Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, from where the data was garnered saw their share prices plunge when the story broke. Facebook lost scores of members and people woke up to the fact that their digital lifestyle was leaving a digital finger prints that even Inspector Clouseau would find hard to miss. Social media types were then heard saying ‘if it’s a free service you are the commodity’ meaning all your data for Amazon, Facebook and the BBC’s new ‘sign in’ service is available for a cheap price for those who market or lobby. All these things reveal the real you. Your politics and proclivities. A powerful tool indeed. The secret police of old could only dream of such a useful tool. It is a real worry for those who have led a colourful life in private or care for privacy.
I am not on Facebook or Friends and Family but I was on something called LinkedIn for a while, it’s a sort of Facebook for business people. I was intrigued after a week or so how it seemed to know many people I did in fact know. It also showed how often they were on the service and the inane comments they were pouring out to their ‘friends’. Quite a few comments were political or mildly abusive of those in the news so I closed the account. Apparently when you close the account it remains there for providers and their clients to see what interested you. Your likes and loves are a secret no more.
The thought that elections have been swung by targeting this material has certainly raised eyebrows and upset a lot of people. If an election can be manipulated or lost by these tricks we can wave goodbye to free elections because money and power will rule every time. It is a worry but its small fry.
There is nothing new under the sun of course, details have been stored about what people got up to: what was said and the rest for centuries. The most revealing and hidden thoughts and opinions are known and ready for use. This archive will be revelation. And I can report you are on it, so am I. Yet people seem much more worried about Cambridge Analytica’s dirty washing than the archive.
Never mind Analytica and Facebook, we have much bigger things to worry about if we have not insured ourselves. The Lord knows the numbers of the hairs on our head, he knows what we do in secret and the light or darkness of our heart. And one day all that will be brought out for those who have not followed God or made their peace with him. If people are bothered by Facebook then ‘Godbook’ should be a real wakeup call for everyone.
Romans 2:5-9 “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.”
Social Media is a walk in the park compared with this and people are in for a real surprise if they don’t believe in the existence of God. Now, we get in trouble for upsetting people so perhaps this might be easier to understand; a church that had been burgled repeatedly put up this sign. ‘Burglars should be aware this church and its treasures are protected by a state of the art CCTV system, The Lord see’s everything and no one gets away with anything, do you really want to get on the wrong side of God’. They have not had a break in since!!