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Facebook Wants Your Thoughts and Prayers

Originally published on Gizmodo.com, Written by Shoshana Wodinsky

Facebook’s found a new way to capitalize on the thoughts, prayers (and data) from the religious side of its user base. On Thursday, the company confirmed that it’s begun expanding a new feature called “prayer posts” that will let members of particular Facebook groups literally ask for (and offer up) prayers for other folks on the platform.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the feature’s been in testing for “over a year” before quietly rolling out to the masses over the past few months. Back in April, Robert Jones—who runs Public Religion Research Institute in Washington DC—was one of the first public faces to actually ask the company what the hell these posts actually were.

Facebook prayer feature

His question wasn’t picked up by mainstream outlets at the time, but more than a few religious-facing newswires jumped on the story and got Facebook to confirm that Prayer Posts were indeed being tested on a select few groups, though the company wouldn’t elaborate on which groups they were (hint: probably users who are religious).

At the time, Nona Jones—who has the baffling role of leading “Global Faith Partnerships” for the company—told one of these religious outlets that the idea for prayer posts stemmed from the need to “build community,” with users over the course of the pandemic. It’s not a coincidence that Jones was seeing this post in the lead-up to Easter when churches were expecting to see their attendance to be sliced to a fraction of what they’d expect in the pre-covid era.

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