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The possibility  of  encountering  negative  reactions  to  faith-­‐related  social  media  posts   was  considered  by  some  to  be  a  disincentive  for  publishing  this  kind  of  content  (section   4.11).  Reports  that  this  criticism  is  almost  as  likely  to  come  from  other  followers  of  the   same  faith  as  compared  to  followers  of  other  faiths  (or  none)  is  noteworthy.  Several   interviewees  admitted  that  they  avoid  particular  topics  of  theology/doctrine  in  order  to   avoid  the  potential  for  this  kind  of  ‘same  on  same’  criticism,  in  some  instances   described  more  colourfully  as  ‘backlash’  or  ‘aggression’.  A  recommendation  for  faith   groups  is  that  more  work  is  done  to  equip  social  media  users  to  prepare  themselves   adequately  for  the  theological  debates  that  may  emerge.     The  data  derived  from  UK  police  forces,  while  only  telling  part  of  the  story,  suggests   that  there  may  be  a  relatively  low  likelihood  of  encountering  a  negative  reaction  to  a   faith-­‐related  social  media  that  is  so  extreme  it  amounts  to  hate  crime  (section  6.4).  The   difficulty  in  extracting  satisfactory  data  from  some  forces  is  itself  indicative  of  a   problem  in  recording  and/or  analysing  instances  of  such  crime.  Anecdotally,  there  also   seems  to  be  a  low  level  of  awareness  among  social  media  users  generally  of  how  to   report  instances  of  abuse.  While  the  recently-­‐launched  EU  Code  of  Conduct  on   Countering  Illegal  Hate  Speech  Online,  endorsed  by  social  media  company  signatories,   is  welcomed,  there  is  much  to  be  done.  Specifically,  methods  for  the  reporting,   recording  and  analysing  faith-­‐related  hate  crime  on  social  media  need  to  be  prioritised   by  the  social  media  companies  themselves,  the  police  and  other  regulatory  authorities.   Raising  awareness  of  reporting  tools  (and  other  techniques  to  counter  hate  crime,  such   as  ‘mute’  or  ‘block’  functions)  could  also  feature  more  prominently  in  advocacy  of   social  media  tools  by  faith  leaders.       Faith-­‐based  charities  should  be  buoyed  by  the  findings  of  this  study,  with  very  high   levels  (in  excess  of  70%)  of  respondents  saying  they  follow  the  social  media  accounts  of   these  organisations  (section  4.5).  In  the  case  of  Twitter,  87%  of  respondents  said  that   they  followed  Christian  organisations  –  more  than  twice  the  number  that  follow  their   own  pastor  or  minister  on  that  platform.  This  is  particularly  notable  in  light  of  the  low   levels  of  faith  leaders  reported  to  be  encouraging  social  media  use.  Trusted  faith-­‐based   organisations  could  and  should  capitalise  on  this  to  create  shareable  content  that   fellow  believers  will  be  comfortable  using  to  help  disseminate  their  faith  messages.  It   should  be  noted,  however,  that  no  single  ‘magic  bullet’  exists  in  terms  of  content   delivery.  Diversity,  therefore,  is  the  recommended  order  of  the  day  –  a  mix  of  textual,   image-­‐based  and  audio/video  content,  posted  regularly  so  that  grass-­‐roots  believers   can  easily  find  it  and  share  it  among  their  own  circle  of  influence.     Despite  survey  respondents  reported  use  of  YouTube  being  relatively  low,  there  was  a   surprisingly  high  proportion  (20%)  who  said  that  they  ‘often’  or  ‘sometimes’  live   streamed  Christian  meetings  (section  4.5).  Although  such  video  streaming  is  hardly  an   emerging  technology,  until  recently  it  has  been  technically  challenging  and  often   expensive.  The  democratisation  of  the  technology,  through  readily-­‐available  free  apps   such  as  Periscope  or  Meerkat,  means  that  it  is  easier  than  ever  before  to  stream  video   from  any  Internet-­‐enabled  location.    

Putting Your  Faith  in  Social  Media  

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Putting Your Faith in Social Media  

Research findings regarding the social media expression of people of faith. By David Giles, Web and Social Media Manager at The Salvation Ar...

Putting Your Faith in Social Media  

Research findings regarding the social media expression of people of faith. By David Giles, Web and Social Media Manager at The Salvation Ar...