Thursday, October 07, 2021

Many users of popular church app spread misinformation

Vaccination misinformation is an epidemic in its own right, especially among Republicans and evangelical Christians. And just like a pandemic, misinformation spreads along vectors. One of them is Subsplash, a popular tech app that aims to help evangelical churches create websites, apps, podcasts, livestreams, and more.

"Founded in 2005, the company now has 14,000 clients around the country from major cities to rural areas. The company boasts that it gives individual churches full control over their content. But there’s a dark side to the company’s hands-off approach. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Subsplash has given voice to and amplified messages from many religiously affiliated anti-vaccine activists," Kiera Butler reports for Mother Jones. "Subsplash’s hosting of anti-vaccine ideology isn’t limited to churches. In addition, the company also developed an app for Texans for Vaccine Choice, a powerful anti-vaccine PAC that has helped Republican state representatives who oppose vaccines to win elections."

Subsplash's culpability in the dissemination of such misinformation is debatable, since the company doesn't control how individuals use their tech, but it's part of a larger conversation: "from politics to medicine, the online spread of conspiracy theories has called into question the role of technology companies as gatekeepers," Butler reports.

It should also be noted that Subsplash states in its Terms of Use that the company values "integrity, truth, and respect for others" and reserves the right to reject any user content that it deems objectionable. Users must agree not to use the platform to knowingly promote "false or misleading information.

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