New Regulations Grip Religious Accounts on Social Media

08/05/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – China’s security has tightened its grip around the throat of commercial web platforms, reportedly cracking down on “illegal activities” by the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission. The campaign has affected religious groups who use WeChat to organize religious gatherings or promote religious activities and content.

The Regulations on the Administration of Religious Information Services came into effect in March 2020. The administration has asked Catholic priests and Protestant pastors to take down religious content that violated the regulations. Livestreaming services are closely monitored by Chinese security agencies since the shutdown of churches, either due to permanent closure by authorities or due to COVID-19 restrictions.

According to UCA News, officials told priests who used WeChat to stop livestreaming and dispersing religious beliefs on the internet; otherwise, they would block the church. The regulations ban broadcasts of religious content, including sharing Bible verses online with other Christians.

Father Peter from the northeast protested the regulations, he said these rules are “illegal because they suppress the Church and violate the freedom of faith and speech.”

According to an operator for WeChat’s highly subscribed public account, who asked for anonymity, “[The Communist Party] has to use official media to spread misinformation to the public and get them to hate the world. At the same time, it is cracking down on online platforms to prevent people from sending out messages,” she said. Anyone monitored by the government is censored, blocked from internet accounts, etc., for even being associated with a religious account.

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