Guys did you know that there is an App for praying? Did you know that these apps monetize your prayers? You’ll never guess who is buying your prayers to sell to advertisers…
2016 was the worst year of Katie’s life. Just after New Year’s Day, her 24-year-old son went missing. Seven weeks later, police recovered his body from the river that snakes through her town. For months, to get to work, Katie had to drive across the bridge near where his body was found. To grieve, she turned to prayer apps: first, the now-defunct Instapray, and then to Pray.com.
Thanks to Pray.com, Katie found solace in a community of what she calls “prayer warriors” — thousands of people who share their deepest fears and hopes in a public Facebookesque feed of prayers and prayer requests. Katie posted prayers for her son, for her former husband, who died by suicide in 2008, and for her youngest child, who struggles with addiction. (All app users’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.)
…Like many app users daunted by inscrutable privacy policies, Katie had not read Pray.com’s. She was troubled to learn that the app shares data about her with other companies and flummoxed by its practice of supplementing said information with additional data from data brokers. “I just have no idea why they would need that,” she said.
And this is where Facebook comes in:
Pray.com declined to say which data brokers it has purchased data from and which third parties it has shared data with. Spokesperson Pat Shortridge said that Pray.com “does not share users’ public, private, or anonymous prayers and specific content consumption with third parties for their commercial purposes,” but did not answer follow-up questions about whether the company shares that information for its own commercial purposes.
However, an audit of Pray.com by privacy researcher Zach Edwards showed that the app shares granular data about the content its users consume with several other companies, including Facebook. According to Edwards, this means users could be targeted with ads on Facebook based on the content they engage with on Pray.com — including content modules with titles like “Better Marriage,” “Abundant Finance,” and “Releasing Anger.”
Pray.com didn’t respond to questions about which data it shares with Facebook or how Facebook uses that information. Shortridge said the company “is not in the business of renting or selling data.” Representatives from Facebook said the company is investigating the situation.
It’s not a surprise that Facebook would harvest your prayers and then turn it into advertising bonanza, it’s their business model to exploit people’s weaknesses and need to belong.
I’m not a religious person, and even I think this is appalling. Think of all the things you pray for (heh!). Would you want everyone to know? Would you want to see ads for the things you prayed about? I think not.