Facebook's revenue is mostly built on serving you relevant ads — but that requires you to stay online. One way to do that? Religion.
And religious content is very popular on Facebook.
According to researchers, the 4 most shared links on the platform in the U.S. in 2020 were Christian-based content, with the top link related to the Bible and the coronavirus at roughly 62 million views.
Facebook says that one of the most popular links on the platform for the second quarter of 2021 was repp'n'forchrist, a website selling
Christian merchandise. Links for that page got more than 51 million clicks in a 3 month period.
Facebook has created several tools for religion-focused Facebook groups, including a prayer function. Users can create a prayer post and ask for support from fellow users, who can respond with an "I Prayed" button.
Religious leaders tell Newsy these tools help tie religious communities together....But they also worry that people might get too comfortable with sharing deeply personal issues, and the privacy concerns that can come with that.
St. Ambrose Catholic Parish Pastor, Father Bob Stec, said, "When we're reading Facebook and seeing all these things that people are posting, like, are you really posting all that really? And that's not necessarily good. Now again, they shouldn't hide it, but it's probably not best to publish it."
Stec also told Newsy that while these digital tools from Facebook helped people stay connected during the pandemic, he hopes that social media doesn't replace in-person, face-to-face religious experiences, but rather supplement the experience.