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HomeNEWSChurches are using apps to 'protect' believers from porn • ENTER.CO

Churches are using apps to ‘protect’ believers from porn • ENTER.CO

In the United States, some churches are making use of applications known as “Shameware” which the institution prefers to call “anti-pornography” applications. These apps are responsible for checking that users, in this case believers, do not access pornography, which is conceived by the church as prohibited content.

When the application detects that the user is accessing such content, it warns a “responsibility partner”, which in many cases is the pastor of the church. The real problem with this “practice” is that an investigation by Wired USA revealed that some congregations are (further) misusing the apps.

According to the portal, parish priests have the possibility to block the content that believers see. Said like this, not only is pornography being blocked, but also content that speaks of gender identity and homosexuality, as well as pages that speak about atheism. This became known after the digital newspaper spoke with Grant Hao- Wei Lin, a boy who belonged to the Gracepoint church.

The young man commented that the pastor of the church assured that God continued to love him even when he had “difficulties with same-sex attraction.” To deal with this problem, the pastor suggested installing Covenant Eyes, an application that would help him “control his impulses.” Although the app was created in order to recognize when a user is consuming pornography, Hao-Wei Lin maintains that it actually monitors much more.

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After he searched for #gay on a social network, he got an email from the church pastor with the subject line “do you have something to tell me?” Clearly, this is not the only app used by churches that breaches users’ privacy. Other believers used apps like Fortify and Accountable2You and say they received warnings when they tried to buy items on Amazon. One user even had a meeting with the pastor after reading about atheism on Wikipedia.

Nicole Praus, from the University of California, explained that “I have never seen anyone who has used these applications feel better in the long term. These people end up feeling like there’s something wrong with them, when the reality is that there probably isn’t.” For his part, Dan Armstrong, a spokesman for Covenant Eyes, commented that the company is concerned about users being monitored without consent. They argue that the app should be used between friends or family and not in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power, eg a priest and parishioner.

However, his statement is contradictory, since these types of applications are marketed mainly in churches and congregations. Fortunately, Wired USA explains that after contacting Google, Covenant Eyes and Accountable2You were removed from the Play Store. They also contacted Apple but have not received a response.

Image: Unsplash

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