Mary   04 Apr 2012   E-Diplomacy

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A new post by guest blogger, Steven Nelson, a teacher, trainer, translator, interpreter, and writer.  Steven is a graduate of Mary Washington College (BA in International Studies) and Central European University (MA in Nationalism Studies) and lives with his family in Budapest, Hungary. He has an keen interest in how the Internet is affecting our world and we hope he will be a regular contributor to our site .

The Internet, being a vast and unregulated virtual space, can appear to be hazardous territory for those who choose to live their lives according to strict guidelines, such as devout Muslims.  Instead of shunning the online world however, a new start-up intended for Muslims is launching a social networking site that conforms with accepted tenets of Islam.

Salamworld, which will go public in July, plans to offer many of the benefits of the popular social networking sites but with a focus on family values and excluding content that Muslims find harmful.  Such content might include discussions of alcohol consumption and pictures of revealing female clothing.

The new venture is not without its risks, however.  This article notes that an earlier Muslim social network, Muxlim.com, was unable to meet its debts and shut down recently, and a 'Muslim search engine' also closed operations late last year.

So will Salamworld succeed where the other Muslim-based start-ups could not?  The main question might be, can young Muslims, who make up the bulk of these types of sites, be enticed to sign up to a new social network that is designed just for them?  With Facebook now reaching 800 million members, it may be quite a challenge for any new site to build a large audience with such a dominant player on the market.

Young Muslims already on Facebook may prefer to stay on that site and ensure that their interactions there conform with their religious beliefs instead of switching to a brand-new and unproven social network.  But if Salamworld succeeds, perhaps it will pave the way for other Islamic-focused online business ventures to come.

 

Comments

  • Profile picture for user Vladimir Radunovic
    Vladimir Radunovic, 04/02/2020 - 21:36

    Steven, interesting thoughts! I know of another social network - http://ankabooot.com/ - that was started long time ago as an Arab-speaking platform (with multilingual translation options) but it did not really focus on religious values but rather on bringing together the Arab people. Regarding social networks that would protect specific values, I am not sure it can really work - it is not about the tool but about the people. As long as there are Muslim people willing to discuss issues like alcohol and female clothing or share "indecent" content (Muslim culture -wise) no network will be "safe". If one introduces limits (filters etc) in the social network to avoid such discussions, will young Muslims really find it "designed for them"? Challenging questions! I think it is still about people rather than about tools...

  • mwalingakana c… (not verified), 04/02/2020 - 21:36

    we cant close the doors that it will not work - but we are all sure of the kind of heavy challenges it is going to face. On top, the failure cases cited proves how difficult it is to run a selective social network. Of the most important to note is muslims are spread across the world, they are not contained in a single territory. They are living with people of different beliefs and in the course of living they adjust themselves to the life demands. Globalization has come with advanced technology that has devalued cultural values of different groups including muslim society. Nevertheless, how will the selection criteria be? who knows that the new member is a muslim? how are we going to identify their religious identity?

  • In reply to by Vladimir Radunovic

    Steven Nelson (not verified), 04/02/2020 - 21:36

    "If one introduces limits (filters etc) in the social network to avoid such discussions, will young Muslims really find it "designed for them"?" This is what I was also wondering. I guess it comes down to how willing they would be to accept such limitations to join a new social network. Put another way: is this a market that is not being served already by presently-existing services, or is it a case of a venture trying to service a market that may not exist? Many startups, religiously-focused or not, have gone under in recent years because of the latter situation.

  • In reply to by mwalingakana c… (not verified)

    Steven Nelson (not verified), 04/02/2020 - 21:36

    Thanks for your comment! I agree that there are challenges involved in this venture. Maybe they won't verify anybody's identity or religious affiliation, but will just ask all joining members to adhere to online behavior befitting a Muslim as they define it and simply leave it at that. But I'm not sure I completely agree with you that "Globalization has come with advanced technology that has devalued cultural values of different groups including muslim society." Couldn't we also make the counter-argument that advanced technology is capable of bringing dispersed communities around the world together in a new and exciting way? Think of a Muslim family in an area with very few other Muslims nearby - nowadays, technology (if they have access to it) allows them to connect with a larger community and gives them an opportunity to strengthen their cultural values. I realize globalization has its downsides as well, but I try to stay optimistic on this issue.

  • Gustavo (not verified), 04/02/2020 - 21:36

    This is an excellent idea, Marc. I was just spakeing with a Muslim colleague about the need for something like this. Peter Sanders has a beautiful exhibit documenting British Muslims (artists, musicians, scholars, doctors, scientists, activists, police officers, etc.), pointing out the Muslim threads in the fabric of British society. I think it would be worthwhile for an American Muslim photographer to do the same and disseminate some positive images of Muslims in the US.

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