Facebook’s next target: religious experience

Months before Megachch Helsing opened New Atlanta, the pastor asked for advice on how to form a dangerous church.

From Facebook.

Sam Collier, the professor of social media, had an idea: In an interview, the pastor recalled: “Using churches as a case study to explore how” churches can go further on Facebook. “

Facebook developers meet with Helsing every month to find out what the church looks like on Facebook and what apps they create for funding, video skills or live streaming. When Helsenges opened its grand opening in June, it began broadcasting its services on stage, announcing that the church was a “partner with Facebook.”

Beyond that, Mr. Coller could not share many differences – a notification agreement was signed.

“They are teaching us, we are teaching them,” he said. We know together on Facebook what the future holds for the Church.

Facebook, which recently spent $ 1 trillion in market capitalization, may seem like an unusual partner to a church whose main purpose is to share Jesus’ message. But over the years, the company has partnered with a number of denominations in various denominations, such as the Church of God and the Church of God, from various congregations to large denominations.

Now that the Coronavirus epidemic has pushed religious groups to explore new ways of working, Facebook is looking at a more strategic opportunity to attract more active users. The company aims to be a virtual home for the religious community and wants churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship to be included in their worship, from arbitrary community service to fundraising. It is developing new products, including voice and prayer sharing, targeting faith groups.

Virtual religious life will not physically replace society in the near future, and even fans will only accept the limitations of the online experience. But many religious groups are looking for new opportunities to influence many people, even on Facebook, the world’s largest and most controversial social media company.

Apart from the transfer of Big Tech and religion services to the Internet, the partners show how close they are to each other. Facebook is shaping the future of religious practice, just as it has done for political and social life.

The company’s efforts to bring religious groups to justice are trying to improve the profile of the forum, especially among Americans who lack confidence in personal matters. Facebook has been able to investigate the role it is playing in the country’s growing crisis of false information and public trust, especially in the area of ​​politics. President Biden last week criticized the company for spreading false information about covad-19 vaccines.

Nona Jones said, “I want you to know that Facebook is a place where you can go to Facebook and connect with the relevant group of people when you are frustrated or anxious or excluded. The company’s director of international partnerships and an anonymous minister said in an interview.

Last month, Facebook executives made their efforts known to religious groups at a real faith meeting. Sherri Sandberg, the organization’s chief executive, shared a resource center with equipment to build conferences.

“Religious organizations and social networks are a natural fit, because they are both about communication,” she said.

Our hope is that one day people will also be able to attend religious services in places of worship, or they may be used as a teaching tool to teach their children the story of their faith.

At a Facebook meeting similar to a religious service, he included testimonies from religious leaders about how Facebook helped them grow during the epidemic.

Imam Tahir Anwar, a member of the Southern Bay Islamic Association in California, said his community used Facebook Live to raise money during Ramadan last year. According to Pope Robert Baron, founder of the influential Catholic media company, Facebook “has given people a unique experience in the form of Mass.”

The collaborations raise not only practical questions but also philosophical and ethical questions. Religion has long been a major factor in the formation of human society, and now social media companies are playing a role. Facebook has nearly three billion active monthly users, which is more than Christianity worldwide, has about 2.3 billion followers, or Islam has 1.8 billion.

There are also privacy concerns as people share some of their most recent details with their spiritual communities. Facebook, a professor of theology and science at the University of Edinburgh, says its ability to collect useful user data poses “extremely” concerns. She says the goals of business and worship communities are different, and many parishioners, often older members, may not understand how to target their religious participation in advertising or other messages.

“Corporations don’t care about ethics,” she says. I don’t think we still know all the ways in which this marriage between Big Tech and the Church is playing. ”

For her part, a Facebook spokeswoman said the information gathered from religious communities would be treated in the same way as other users, adding that undisclosed agreements are a normal process for all partners involved in product development.

Many Facebook partners ask religious institutions to try new products or come up with their own ideas, and those groups seem to be unhappy with the big controversy on Facebook. This year, Facebook has tested the prayer behavior of some Facebook groups to post prayer requests and others to respond. The creator of the popular Bible app YouVersion worked with the company.

Accessibility of Facebook is the first time a large technology company wants to collaborate on a development project. Behavior in 2018

“Certainly there are different ways in which they will eventually serve their shareholders,” he said. From our Facebook standpoint, Facebook is a platform for us to build community, connect with our community and carry out our mission. So I think everyone is fine. ”

Melody Smith, a spokeswoman for the Mission Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States, said she was invited to become a Facebook partner in December. He said the church has agreed to a contract that will not own any product that supports Facebook design.

According to Angela Clinton-Joseph, the church’s social media manager, about six million members of the Christian Church of God around the world have recently discovered Facebook’s revenue streams and provided new sources of revenue. .

They decided to try two Facebook devices: subscriptions where users pay, for example, $ 9.99 a month and subscriptions to receive special content such as e-mail messages; And for worshipers and other devices looking for online services to send real-time donations. Leaders decide on the third feature: ads during video streaming.

He said the epidemic has accelerated the technological development of the year by consolidating the existing dynamics – Bob Pritchit, for his part, founded the Christian Life Forum, a platform for Christian ministry by collecting online services.

But he says spiritual life is different from the personal and professional positions held on Facebook and LinkedIn.

He said it is dangerous for your community to be anchored in a technology platform that is easily exposed to all political and cultural and conference meetings.

In 2017, Facebook formed the Faith Partnership Group and began meeting closely with religious leaders, especially evangelical and Pentecostal groups in 2018.

“Basically, hey, we want to be, we have to go,” said Samuel Rodriguez, a priest of Sacramento who leads a large coalition of Hispanic churches.

The ministers of the 69 million members of the Pentecostal Church were the first recipients of a Facebook device that allowed users to make live calls. In Dallas, 30,000 of the TD Jacks Meghaster pottery houses were also inspected for various properties before completion.

For some pastors, Facebook’s work raises questions about the Church’s vast future in a virtual world. So much of the religious life is physical, such as the sacrament or the laying on of hands for healing.

Wilfredo de Juice, a pastor and general treasurer of the Church of God, said that the online church was never intended to replace the local church. He was grateful for Facebook, but eventually said, “We want everyone to put their faces in another book.”

The technology has created this idea in the lives of our people that I can make this call, and they have parked my car on target and opened it for me. “The Church Is Not a Target”

For churches like Hillsing Atlanta, the ultimate goal is evangelism.

“Make disciples of all nations,” said Mr. Collier, “we have never felt so much better than the Great Commission.”

“In order to help churches have a direct impact and reach the consumer better,” he said in collaboration with Facebook.

“The consumer is not the right word,” he corrected himself. Reach out to the congregation better. ”

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