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Who Is My Neighbor? For Christians in the Balkans, the Answer Might be Troll Farms.

Image: Illustration by Wenjia Tang

Twenty of the top 22 Christian pages on Facebook in 2021 were run from Europe’s southeast corner.

Nikola Galevski’s wasn’t one of them.

The pastor of Soulcraft Evangelical Church in Skopje, North Macedonia, actually prefers Twitter, which in the Balkans mostly attracts leftist and antireligious voices. He uses the handle “Protestant Imam,” which is a tongue-in-cheek gesture of openness to the Muslim population that makes up about a third of his country.

“The community teases me, and I tease them,” Galevski said, “but it helps develop their life with Christ.”

He has around 5,000 followers on Twitter, and some of his videos on YouTube went viral when his wife, Anet, was dying of cancer. Galevski shared about the struggle of her death in his weekly sermons, which were posted online. Orthodox Christians, nonbelievers, and Muslims joined him in his mourning, and when Anet died, views jumped into the tens of thousands.

But that pales in comparison to the top Christian Facebook page, “Be Happy Enjoy Life,” which reached 75 million users every month, according to an internal Facebook document obtained by MIT Technology Review. Ninety-five percent of viewers did not sign up to follow that page but instead had its content pushed into their news feeds by Facebook’s algorithms.

That page is one of 15,000 in the Balkans that is believed to be a “troll farm,” pumping out disinformation and figuring out new and better ways to command eyeballs—many of them belonging to Christians scrolling in America.

An internal Facebook document written by a senior-level data scientist said, “Our platform has given the largest voice in the Christian American community to a handful of bad actors who, based on their media production practices, have never been to church.”

They’re certainly not evangelicals. Galevski, who is also the coordinator of the Evangelical Protestant Initiative, would probably know them if they were. There are about…

This article was originally published in the April print edition of Christianity Today. Please click here to read the full text.

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