Pope’s “like” is what’s on followers’ minds

As Facebook’s growth in the U.S slows down, the Pope’s endorsement of the social network couldn’t have come at a better time.

Recent statistics from comScore show that 73% of internet users in the U.S. use Facebook. That amounts to 55% of the whole population over the age of 12. “I would say this might be the U.S. reaching an inflection point,” Jan Rezab, co-founder of Socialbakers, said of the recent U.S. growth slowdown to Contra Costa Times in California, “but only time will show if the U.S. can outgrow 50 percent penetration.”

Nearing saturation point in their U.S. market means they will have to spread out to other countries, especially the developing world. Facebook has already got a presence in some of these markets. Facebook Gold, a data service, claims Facebook  gained more users in India, Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia than in the United States during December.

According to the Catholic Church, almost 90% of Mexico’s population is Catholic, and almost 80% of Brazil’s and the Philippines’s. All of these represent a strong catholic demographic in countries where Facebook has established markets.

For many of these people, the Pope’s word is an absolute truth.

Back in November 2010, when Benedict suggested that condoms could be used in limited situations, AIDS activists saw an immediate response in Africa. A senior official with the United Nations AIDS agency told the Associated Press: “Catholics consider the Pope infallible. He cannot err in what he’s teaching. That way, they will now be able to use condoms, and I can see further decline in the AIDS epidemic.”

The Pontiff’s recent message to followers about using Facebook to spread the gospel might have a similarly positive impact on Facebook growth in the developing world. “To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one’s own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preference and judgments that are fully consistent with the Gospel” he wrote.

Other religious leaders aren’t as enthusiastic about the insurgence of new media in Christianity. U.S. Reverend Cedric Miller recently advised his congregation to delete their Facebook profiles to avoid flirting outside of marriage. “People use it as an opportunity to invite others to social gatherings, to share Scripture or talk about what went on at church. Those are all positive, worthwhile things. But the downside is just too great” he told the Daily Mail in November.

However, if the Pope’s word continues to be as impactful now as it has in the past, Facebook and investors will have something to “like” about expansion outside of the U.S.

About sinhblog

I'm a freelance journalist who believes in the fourth branch of democracy.
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