USCIRF Releases New Report about Protecting Religious Freedom Online

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a factsheet on December 3rd on safeguarding the freedom of religion or belief on social media platforms.

Protecting Religious Freedom Online Factsheet – This report outlines the international human rights standards relevant to the regulation of speech on social media platforms—focusing specifically on the impact to the freedom of religion or belief. Governments’ and social media companies’ insufficient responses to online hate can result in grave human rights violations. At the same time, removing or censoring protected speech online can also impede human rights. States have a direct duty to protect human rights online, which requires balancing the removal of unlawful content with allowing protected speech. This factsheet considers the impact of social media companies’ current content moderation policies on religious freedom, and explores the opportunities for those companies to incorporate international human rights standards. To further promote human rights online, this factsheet reiterates USCIRF’s recommendations for how the U.S. government can play an important role in ensuring the protection of religious freedom digitally.

In October 2020, USCIRF held a hearing on Combatting Online Hate Speech and Disinformation Targeting Religious Communities. USCIRF’s 2021 Annual Reporthighlights the prevalence and impact of hate speech targeting religious communities, including in India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Nicaragua, and Turkey.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at [email protected].