A number of groups have mobilized on the site to recruit members and highlight their virtuous intentions – to avoid friending, poking, and posting messages on each others' walls for the next seven weeks beginning on Ash Wednesday.
The motto of one group, Facebook fasten, or “Facebook fasting,” is simple: “We waste so much time on Facebook and other social networks that we could invest much better elsewhere – in our relationship with God!”
Instead of spending hours clicking around the addictive site, the 40 days of sacrifice and preparation for the celebration of Easter should be spent on spirituality, members say.
The most popular social networking platform in Germany, experts estimate that users are on the site on average three hours per month.
Germany's Protestant church stands behind the Facebook fasting campaign.
“The idea of fasting applies to all areas of life,” pastor Jan von Campenhausen of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD) told news agency DAPD.
The decision as to just what object or activity to abstain from is personal, he said. An important aspect of the decision is gaining freedom from a vice – and for some, the 15-million member site has become just that, said the theologian.
Meanwhile, 28 percent of Germans said they planned to give up computers and the internet altogether during Lent, according to a recent poll conducted by research group Forsa for public health insurer DAK.
More women than men were willing to give up their digital addiction, but such a sacrifice was out of the question for young people, who said they'd rather give up certain foods instead.
The most popular item for fasting was alcohol (78 percent), followed by sweets (69 percent), smoking (53 percent), meat (48 percent), and television (42 percent).
Forsa conducted the poll with 1,002 people between February 19 and 22.