Can you really request prayers in the NEW Facebook feature?

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Seriously, according to a story aired on NEWS 4 (WIVB-TV) the social media giant has recently rolled out a prayer request feature,  embraced by some as a way to engage the faithful online while others are viewing it a bit more realistically with privacy and security concerns in mind.

Facebook members can use it to ask people to pray for job interviews, illnesses, and other requests both big and small.

According to a statement attributed to a company spokesperson...

“During the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve seen many faith and spirituality communities using our services to connect, so we’re starting to explore new tools to support them,” it said.

The Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas enthusiastically welcomed the feature.

“Facebook and other social media platforms continue to be tremendous tools to spread the Gospel of Christ and connect believers with one another — especially during this pandemic,” he said.

The company does say advertisers will not be able to use a person’s prayer posts to target their ads.

The Rev. Bob Stec, pastor of St. Ambrose Catholic Parish in Brunswick, Ohio, said, on one hand, he sees the new feature as an affirmation of people’s need for an “authentic community” of prayer but he also worries about privacy concerns surrounding the sharing of personal information.

My question is this...isn't prayer deeply personal?  When you have asked others to pray do you always tell them what exactly the prayer is for?  Or do you simply say that you are in need of prayer?  My concern would be not that Facebook is deliberately using this feature for advertisers' benefits, but how the feature could be misused by hackers or other actors working in the shadows.

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