False reports from Afghanistan spread via social media

By September 8, 2021

Afghanistan (MNN) — Rumors have surfaced on social media claiming the Taliban plans to murder 229 Christian missionaries in Afghanistan. But that report is not true, according to fact-checkers. Versions of this story have been bouncing around social media for the last 10 years.

The city cited in the social media story isn’t even in Afghanistan; it’s in Iraq. The story may date back to a 2007 incident in which 27 South Korean missionaries were kidnapped by the Taliban and two were killed. The story appeared most recently on Facebook but has popped up in various forms on WhatsApp.

Todd Nettleton of The Voice of the Martyrs USA says, “I would encourage people to be very careful about what you share and what you post on social media. Make sure it’s accurate, make sure it’s true. And understand that we can pray for a situation without knowing all of the details. God obviously knows all of the details. I think posting something that isn’t accurate sort of undermines the goal of helping people to pray for our brothers and sisters.”

Nettleton says it’s very challenging to get any information out of Afghanistan right now, meaning any information that does get out is hard to confirm.

How to pray

Certainly, Afghan Christians face a dangerous situation. The Taliban has announced the formation of a new government. The new interior minister was behind some of the worst attacks of the last two decades.

Ask God to protect Afghan Christians and give them wisdom about how to respond. Nettleton gives some tips for finding accurate news sources. “I’d encourage people to connect with the VOM and persecution.com. We are very cautious about what we post. Is it accurate? Can we confirm it? We’re also very cautious about putting people in danger. And so those are the two questions about any sources: are they careful about accuracy? Are they careful about security?”

 

 

The header photo shows Taliban fighters in August of 2021. Photo courtesy of Voice of America, Public Domain)