Facebook is testing ‘prayer messages’ that allow members of groups to ask for and offer good wishes wensen

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Facebook wants your prayers! Social media giant is testing ‘prayer messages’ that allow group members to ask for and offer good wishes

  • The feature has been undergoing a soft launch since December
  • It is currently only available in select US Facebook groups
  • Users can request or respond to prayers with likes, comments and messages
  • During Easter and Passover last year, Facebook saw its largest share of group video calls on Messenger and Facebook Live broadcasts from spiritual pages
  • Some debated its necessity, while others wondered what personal religious information might be used for

Facebook is quietly rolling out a new feature that allows users to ask for prayers — but like prayer itself, it leaves users with more questions than answers.

In December, the California-based social media giant began testing an option for users to request prayers, according to a statement from a spokesperson to DailyMail.com.

The feature is only available within Facebook groups and must be enabled by a group admin.

Once enabled, users can request prayers from their peers, as well as like, comment, or respond to prayer requests from others.

The company says the effort stemmed from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen many faith and spirituality communities use our services to connect, so we’re starting to explore new tools to support them,” a spokesperson said.

According to Facebook’s 2020 Annual Review, the “April 6 holiday week (Easter and Passover) was the largest for group video calls on Messenger and the most popular week of Facebook Live spiritual Pages broadcasts ever.”

So far, the soft launch of the feature has left some users skeptical about its true nature or necessity.

Robert P. Jones, the founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, appears to be one of the first to notice Facebook's new feature

Robert P. Jones, the founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, appears to be one of the first to notice Facebook’s new feature

Some users questioned whether the social media giant would use their intimate religious information for advertising purposes

Some users questioned whether the social media giant would use their intimate religious information for advertising purposes

“Wonder what the fb algorithm thinks it knows about me?” asked Robert P. Jones, the CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.

Jones appears to be one of the first to notice the feature on social media.

Facebook has come under scrutiny for the amount of data it collects about its users, as well as what the advertisers who monetize the site do with that information.

While it has tightened its privacy rules in recent years, users continue to question whether anything owned by Facebook can truly be private.

“Prayer is for self-reflection, connecting with God, and now for Facebook to better target its ads,” mused a Twitter user named Dejan.

Facebook said 'prayer' feature will only be rolled out in select US Facebook groups

Facebook said ‘prayer’ feature will only be rolled out in select US Facebook groups

Some users, like the one above, were initially wondering if a prayer option was necessary

Some users, like the one above, were initially wondering if a prayer option was necessary

Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has seen a rise in religious interest in its platform since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic

Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has seen a rise in religious interest in its platform since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic

Others were tickled by Facebook’s quest for faith.

“If I tried, I couldn’t think of a less necessary function,” one user wrote.

It is unknown when or if the feature will be widely released.

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