Facebook’s Next Target: Religious Experience

“I just want people to know that Facebook is a place where, when they’re feeling down, depressed, or isolated, they can go to Facebook and immediately connect with a group of people who care about them,” Nona Jones, the director of the company for global faith associations and a nondenominational minister, he said in an interview.

Last month, Facebook executives presented their efforts to religious groups at a virtual faith summit. Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer, shared an online resource center with tools for building congregations on the platform.

“Religious organizations and social media fit together naturally because fundamentally both are about connection,” Sandberg said.

“Our hope is that one day people will also offer religious services in virtual reality spaces or use augmented reality as an educational tool to teach their children the story of their faith,” he said.

The Facebook summit, which resembled a religious service, included testimonies from religious leaders about how Facebook helped them grow during the pandemic.

Imam Tahir Anwar of the South Bay Islamic Association in California said his community raised record funds by using Facebook Live during Ramadan last year. Bishop Robert Barron, founder of an influential Catholic media company, said Facebook “gave people an intimate experience of Mass that they normally wouldn’t have.”

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