Sunday, January 28, 2018

HT Jim West a NYT feature discusses social media bots and purchasing the appearance of influence, The Follower Factory

First off, hat tip to Jim West.

Because he just linked to something recently that's been a topic we've looked at here at Wenatchee The Hatchet in connection to former leaders from Mars Hill such as Mark Driscoll (currently following 3 and having 529k followers) and Sutton Turner (currently following 42.9k and having 44k followers). 

We've looked at Twitter usage and follower counts connected to former executive elders of the former Mars Hill Church (also known initially as Mars Hill Fellowship) here at the blog in the past.

Two posts spring to mind:

the following of Sutton Turner on Twitter, a new short story in screencaps tells a story of a Turner in September 2014 that does not mention Mars Hill so much

The continual rise of Mark Driscoll's Twitter following, a short story in screen captures

Well, the New York Times has a feature about the business of buying and selling bots and the appearance of popularity on social media.

I never plan to be on Twitter or use the platform.  It was of no real value at all and it's only utility, in my experience as a blogger, was that it was partly through Twitter feeds and blog posts I managed to identify that James Noriega and his family as parties most likely connected to the disciplinary case of Andrew Lamb at Mars Hill in later 2011 that became the basis for headlines in early 2012.  While the official Mars Hill public relations response was to say they were not discussing details of the disciplinary case to protect the identities of parties involved, I eventually wrote an extensive series of posts named A Confluence of Situations discussing how social media use within the culture of Mars Hill made it easy to put together a basic timeline of what happened when in connection to the addition of James Noriega to the leadership culture of Mars Hill; how and why that leadership was significant not only for the counseling arm of the church but also, and arguably more crucially, it's real estate acquisition history in connection to its growth model; and how the social media use of the Noriega family in tandem with Mark Driscoll sermons and coverage from the Seattle P-I made it fairly straightforward to connect the dots as to their respective statements pointing to them as the most probable and plausible participants in what became one of the landmark controversies associated with Mars Hill leadership and membership in early 2012.

A more conventional understanding of how and why social media usage might be considered controversial in connection to pastors or churches would be that this is an appearance of influence that can be bought and sold. 

I admit I am simply not sold on the idea that people somehow need to use social media to be "engaged".  I'm particularly not sure I embrace the idea that Christians in church staff need to embrace social media.  They can if they wish to but there's book by Jacques Ellul I would recommend ... .

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