Baptist churches using ‘invasive’ spying apps to track ‘sinful’ phone behaviour

Over the centuries, churches have long attempted to control and shame people's sexuality, whether it's through preaching and even punishment.

But the dawn of smartphone technology has made that moralising even more powerful, thanks to apps which can track every second of someone's Internet usage.

According to a WIRED report, strict Baptist churches across America are demanding that their followers install invasive apps so they can snoop on their porn and Internet habits.

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This 'anti-pornography' software is available in the form of several different apps, but basically encourage people to hand over all their private data to someone else.

One app, Covenant Eyes costs $16.99 (£15.38) per month and promises to help users 'live porn-free with confidence'.

It monitors everything users do on their smartphones and captures at least one screenshot per minute, and hands this all over to an 'accountability partner' who can pull them up on their online habits.

While reviews of the app are positive, Google told WIRED that the app violates its policies.

What's more, 'cult-like' churches in the US are demanding that their followers install the app and then use this to keep an eye on any 'sinful' phone behaviour.

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In one instance, a church leader reportedly sent a menacing email titled: "Anything you need to tell me?" to a follower who had searched for the word 'gay' online.

One former member of Gracepoint, a southern Baptist church which uses the app, said: "I wouldn't quite call it spyware. It's more like 'shameware' and it's just another the way church controls you."

Meanwhile, another app called 'Fortify' asks users (including those under 18) to log details of when they last masturbated. Several churches reportedly recommend this app to their congregations, and it even connects to Facebook tracking.

A Meta spokesperson said: "Advertisers should not send sensitive information about people through our Business Tools. Doing so is against our policies. Our system is designed to filter out potentially sensitive data it is able to detect."


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