Facebook is letting religious groups charge users $9.99 per month for exclusive content, such as messages from their bishop

Sheryl Sandberg
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg hosted a summit for faith leaders. Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair
  • Facebook has been partnering with religious groups, The New York Times reported.
  • A US church said Facebook gave it access to new monetization tools.
  • This included a $US9.99 ($AU14) monthly subscription for exclusive content including messages from the bishop.
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Facebook is trying to convince religious groups to partner with it, The New York Times reports.

According to The Times’ report, Facebook has been courting religious groups since at least 2018, but it has made even more effort over the past year.

The Times spoke to the Leaders of the Church of God in Christ church, which recently trialed two new tools from Facebook to help it make money. The first let worshipers donate to the church while watching livestreamed services, and the second was a subscription $US9.99 ($AU14) service for exclusive content, including messages from the bishop.

The Times also reported that, last month, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg held a virtual summit for faith leaders in the style of a religious service. At the summit, religious leaders discussed new products Facebook had been trialling for their groups.

“Faith organizations and social media are a natural fit because fundamentally both are about connection,” Sandberg said, per The Times.

Reuters reported on Facebook’s recent push to appeal to religious groups Thursday, saying the company introduced a new “prayer” tool in May of this year.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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Sandberg also touted Facebook’s virtual reality (VR) ambitions.

“Our hope is that one day people will host religious services in virtual reality spaces as well, or use augmented reality as an educational tool to teach their children the story of their faith,” she reportedly added.

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has championed Facebook’s VR division, and said in an interview last week that he wanted Facebook to become a “metaverse company” – meaning consumers would interact with it in 3D, rather than through their phone screens.