Connect with us

SOCIAL

Social media: Your battlefield or your mission field?

Published

on

social-media:-your-battlefield-or-your-mission-field?

USA (MNN) — Does it seem like your social media newsfeed is full of division and anger right now? You’re not alone. Between an election year in the United States, a global pandemic, social justice tensions, and holiday stress, there’s a lot of kindling for keyboard warriors.

But what if Christians viewed social media not as a cultural battlefield but as their mission field?

Doug Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says, “If you’re like me, it might take all of the self-control you have to not express your own frustrations about what’s going on in the world. But why be another loud and argumentative voice? Why not be the one that chooses to be the peacemaker? When was the last time you got into an argument on social media and actually convinced somebody of your viewpoint? It’s more our heart to want to be right than to want peace.

“Like any other medium, it’s not that social media is good or bad, but rather how we choose to use it.”

nordwood themes yyMJNPgQ X8 unsplash

(Photo courtesy of Nordwood Themes via Unsplash)

Ron Hutchcraft Ministries recently hosted a conversation on Facebook Live with Native American young people through their On Eagles’ Wings outreach. They talked about loneliness, suicide, the pandemic, and what it all means in the context of faith.

Hutchcraft says, “It was amazing – even though it’s an online thing and you’re not in the same room – how much God used that.”

When we set aside our personal agendas on social media, it opens the door for Gospel-focused interactions like this.

So what does it look like to engage social media day-after-day with the mindset of an ambassador for Christ?

If a friend or family member seems like they are struggling on social media, reach out to them! You can send a note of encouragement, ask how you can pray for them, or even invite them to join a virtual Bible study with you.

Also, when we feel attacked or offended by something on social media, Hutchcraft says we need to replace our own agendas and pride with the Gospel.

“In 1 Corinthians 9:12… the Apostle Paul who was being thrown in jail, who has been almost murdered a couple of times, he says, ‘I will put up with anything rather than get in the way of what the Gospel is trying to communicate.’”

chad madden f4xCFAU6ZNw unsplash

(Photo courtesy of Chad Madden via Unsplash)

Hutchcraft says, “My rule as a communicator has to be, ‘Could this encumber the Gospel? Could this give people a reason to continue to reject Jesus?’ They already have those reasons perhaps because of other Christians they’ve met. But when they’re through reading what you’re writing, maybe you could be the one that is a magnet for who Jesus is.”

Finally, pray. When you see a post from someone on social media and the Holy Spirit stirs your heart, pray for them. And if you’re getting ready to write a post, type a comment, or share something, stop and pray about it first.

Prayer sounds so simple, but it’s easy to forget.

“How about even how many of us actually pray right before we go on Facebook?” Hutchcraft asks. “How many of us actually pray right before we go post something on Instagram?

“People need every day for someone to be the salt and the light and to know what a merciful God looks like.”

Click here for more resources from Ron Hutchcraft Ministries on being an ambassador for Jesus.

Header photo courtesy of Prateek Katyal via Unsplash.

Read More

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

SOCIAL

How To Remove Your Personal Data From The Internet (And Why You Should)

Published

on

How To Remove Your Personal Data From The Internet (And Why You Should)

Digital exposure comes with several downsides, the first one being the potential for identity theft and financial fraud. Imagine someone gaining access to your bank account or credit card information just because they stumbled upon your personal details online. It’s a scary thought, but it’s a real possibility when your data isn’t adequately protected.

Privacy breaches and data leaks are another significant concern. Think about all the times you’ve entered your information on various websites or social media platforms. Each time you do, there’s a chance that your data could be compromised. Whether it’s due to hacking, inadequate security measures, or even just a simple mistake, once your information is out there, it’s vulnerable to being accessed by unauthorized parties.

However, it’s not just criminals you have to worry about. The more personal data you have online, the more you open yourself up to targeted advertising and unwanted marketing. Have you ever searched for something online, only to have ads for that exact thing follow you around everywhere you go? It’s not a coincidence – it’s the result of companies collecting and using your data to target you with ads.

Finally, let’s not forget about the darker side of the internet — harassment and stalking. Unfortunately, the anonymity afforded by the internet can embolden some individuals to engage in harmful behavior in the form of cyberbullying or online harassment, which can have serious consequences for your safety and well-being.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SOCIAL

More Generative AI Tools are Coming to Social Apps – Is That a Good Thing?

Published

on

More Generative AI Tools are Coming to Social Apps - Is That a Good Thing?

The latest developments in generative AI have opened up a range of new possibilities and potential use cases, But are we sure that there’s a value to them within social media apps?

Sure, there are some helpful, practical use cases like image editing for ad backgrounds, and creating optimized ad copy for varying purpose.

But for regular users, does generative AI really enhance the social app experience?

For years, people have complained about spam messaging polluting their DMs, and artificial engagement prompted by, say, anniversary and birthday updates. These types of posts feel disingenuous, non-engaging, and don’t really add value to the “social” experience.

But now, with Gen AI, social apps are trying to make such even more prominent, with almost every app now experimenting with different forms of generative AI, which can be used to create content that humans can then post to their profiles, cosplaying actual engagement.

LinkedIn, for example, has an AI post composer, which will write your updates for you in-stream, and Facebook’s also experimenting with the same, while X claims that, soon, you’ll be able to transfer responses from its Grok AI chatbot into your updates.

Why would people want that? Why would users want to post robot responses, and attempt to pass them off as their own thoughts and opinions?

Spammers and scammers will love it, no doubt, and engagement farmers will be keen to “optimize” their updates through these tools. But are those the types of posts that actually enhance social media interaction?

Of course, that’s seemingly an afterthought, because now you can create a profile image of yourself as an 18th century warrior. Isn’t that cool?

As a novelty, sure, that’s kind of interesting. But how many generative AI images can you create to depict yourself in different scenes before it starts to weigh on you that you’re not actually doing any of these things?

Social media, by definition, is “social”, which involves humans interacting with each other, sharing their own experiences, and the things that are filtering through their real human brain, in order to then feel more connected to the world around them. That’s been the universal value of the medium, building on books and movies in facilitating more understanding and connectedness, so we all feel less alone and more engaged with the world around us.

How do bot updates help with that?

And of course, this is all, inevitably, still going to get a lot worse.

LinkedIn says that it’s re-building its foundations around AI, in order to power “the next ten years of product development and innovation”. Which means more AI integration, and more bot-generated content, and as these tools continue to iterate on the latest trends, in order maintain relevance, they’ll also be training on more and more AI-generated updates that are flowing through their circuits.

Which means that AI tools will increasingly be powered by AI responses, diluting human input out of the process with every refresh.

The “social” aspect is becoming more automated, more stale, and less human with every such integration.

Of course, the counter is that people can already use AI tools outside of social apps anyway, so whether they’re integrated or not, they’re going to be utilized for the same purpose. Which is partly true, but still, adding them in-stream, making it easier for people to just tap a button to generate a response, seems like a step in the wrong direction either way.

That’s not to say that Gen AI tools are not useful. As noted, there are practical use cases for optimized, simplified tools that can complement human creation.

But bleaching humanity out of the source code is simply not a pathway to value.

And whether we realize it or not, the Gen AI shift is going to take far more significant turns yet.  

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SOCIAL

3 Things You’ll Regret Not Knowing Before Buying Meta Platforms Stock Right Now

Published

on

3 Things You'll Regret Not Knowing Before Buying Meta Platforms Stock Right Now

It’s been a wonderful time to be a shareholder in Meta Platforms (META -0.43%). After hitting a low around the start of November 2022, the business has seen its shares skyrocket nearly fivefold (as of Feb. 20). Investor enthusiasm is through the roof.

Despite this monster performance, the FAANG stock, which is near its all-time highs, trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of just 23.5 right now. This might prompt you to rush to buy shares.

But before you do, here are three things you must know about this dominant tech giant.

Massive, but growing

Meta Platforms owns and operates some of the most popular social media services on the face of the planet.

Between its various platforms — like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Threads — the business counted a whopping 4 billion monthly active users (MAUs) as of the end of last year. This means that almost half of the world’s 8.1 billion people interact with a Meta digital property once a month. That’s hard to wrap your head around.

While it’s reasonable to assume the company can’t get any larger, it’s worth pointing out that MAUs were up 6% year over year in the fourth quarter. Because the U.S., Canada, and European markets are much more mature, Meta is finding success posting better growth in other geographies, like the Asia-Pacific region.

This massive scale has resulted in powerful network effects. The more users on a particular social media platform, the more valuable it is to users. Anyone can start a new app tomorrow, but it would be almost impossible to expand the way Meta’s services have, which protects its competitive standing.

Digital advertising is key

Providing free services to billions of users means that Meta, unsurprisingly, is a digital advertising powerhouse. Of the $135 billion in revenue it brought in in 2023, 98% came from selling ads. This puts it behind Alphabet in the global rankings when it comes to digital ad revenue.

Because of the valuable data Meta is able to extract from its gigantic user base, it’s no wonder that businesses of all sizes find it extremely effective to target audiences using the company’s platforms. The ongoing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) features will only improve this for marketers.

The downside is that the digital advertising market has shown itself to be somewhat cyclical. When interest rates rise, inflationary pressures persist, consumer spending gets pressured, and everyone is uncertain where the economy is headed, it makes sense that ad spending will be among the first thing that executives cut. Meta reported a 1% decline in revenue in 2022 thanks to these headwinds. However, things picked up in a huge way last year: Sales jumped 16%.

It also helps that digital ad revenue drove a fantastic 54% operating margin for the family of apps segment in Q4. Add this to Meta’s net cash position of $47 billion, and there should be zero concern about the business being able to navigate any unfavorable macro conditions.

Meta’s metaverse ambitions

Love him or hate him, credit goes to Meta’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for building one of the world’s most valuable and dominant enterprises in just two decades. By being a forward-thinking innovator, he’s always trying to position the business for whatever tech shifts that might come.

Zuckerberg thinks that next shift could be the metaverse. As a result, he’s focused heavily on creating new hardware and software products in the hopes of attracting 1 billion users to spend and interact in virtual worlds.

He’s putting his money where his mouth is. Meta’s Reality Labs division posted an operating loss of $16 billion in 2023, and more losses are expected. And it doesn’t make much money, producing $4 billion in revenue combined in the last two years.

But given a proven track record of success, as well as vast financial resources from the company’s thriving social media apps, investors should doubt Zuckerberg at their own risk.

If you’re looking to scoop up shares of Meta, you now know three very important aspects of the business that can lead to a more informed decision.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Neil Patel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet and Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending

Follow by Email
RSS