Facebook Launches “I Prayed” Button & Other New “Prayer Services” P-admin Atheist Republic

Read More Atheist Republic In 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a “connecting the world” manifesto, stated that religion and religious communities are the things his company will focus on for “faith partnership.” In December 2020, Facebook started rolling out its “I Prayed” button tool for Facebook groups in the United States.
Facebook has been targeting religious communities and Facebook groups since 2017. In June 2021, Hillsong, a global megachurch organization, opened its new church in Atlanta, GA. Before the opening of the church, Sam Collier, Hillsong’s Senior Pastor, received an offer from Facebook where they would be allowed to use Hillsong’s followers in a case study on how Facebook can better help churches.
Hillsong is not the only church Facebook has been collaborating with its efforts to capitalize on the massive traffic coming from religious communities. Facebook’s plan is not just to offer a “prayer tool” but to become the online “home” of these religious communities. The online giant has been working with synagogues, mosques, and various Christian churches to “embed their religious life into its platform.
With the coming of the Covid Pandemic, Facebook saw the anticipated increase in online traffic on their social media platform. Facebook began taking advantage of the online trend. Nona Jones, the head of Faith Partnerships with Facebook, said they’ve ramped up the work on the “prayer products,” which included the “I Prayed” button.
Facebook’s venture into the monetization of religious communities has received mixed responses. Most religious leaders see Facebook’s religious products as a means of augmenting their respective church’s abilities to reach out to their followers on online platforms. Paul Egensteiner, the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in New York, sees the “I Prayed” button as similar to their system of requesting online prayers. Egensteiner added that he is still disappointed with most of Facebook’s services.
An Anglican priest, Rev. Thomas McKenzie, was mused at the idea that Facebook’s greed can finally have a use for good but decried its prayer services, saying that “You cannot participate fully in the body of Christ online. It’s not possible.”
Aside from religious leaders recognizing Facebook’s capitalizing efforts, another concern over Facebook’s prayer tools, is the privacy concerns it brings. Facebook has been insisting that, although they are using user’s data for ad-targeting, the companies who paid for the ad placement cannot use or access the users’ information.
Facebook’s “I Prayed” button and other “Prayer Services” are currently available in the US only. There is no planned availability for other regions as of the writing of this article.