A Censored Social Network for Muslims: Will Salamworld be a Turnoff?
This summer, Salamworld “a strictly Muslim-focused social network” is hoping to make waves on the Internet. According to TAGES-ANZEIGER (via Worldcrunch), Salamworld will provide Muslims with all the pleasurable, attention-feeding, global connectivity that Facebook offers, only on this site there will be no sexual content floating through user feeds.
The article questions Salamworld’s claim to keep things clean among the 50 million users they are predicting will join in three years’ time: “Offensive material like pornography will be filtered out. The site will also prohibit anything inciting terrorist activity or human rights violations. Chat rooms moderated, and online communities will be called upon to remove or report offensive content. But what exactly constitutes offensive? And wouldn’t young people in conservative countries like Egypt or repressive societies like Saudi Arabia look on this as an opportunity to form Internet friendships, to flirt ““ in short, to do exactly what it is so difficult or forbidden to do in real life?”
A PR representative from the Turkish-based company said that Salamworld will not censor content and that users are free to upload videos and photographs just as long as there is no nudity (huh?). Skeptics say that many young Muslims will not be keen on joining an online social network that limits their freedoms, and that Salamworld is simply trying to uphold traditional values that are slowly fading from a culture of younger generations of Muslims. An online study conducted by Google found that the most Internet searches for the word “sex” are coming out of Islamic Pakistan. The article points out that “wherever sex shops and prostitution are forbidden, the Internet becomes a major substitution outlet.”
The company plans to launch the site in mid-July during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. Salamworld will be programed to incorporate eight languages including English, Arabic, Turkish, Urdu and Russian. According to the article, “Its creators hope within three years to have 50 million Muslims from Indonesia to the United States downloading Salamworld.com podcast sermons, buying travel packages for pilgrims, getting distance-learning degrees in theology, and ordering travel guides that tell them how to get to the nearest mosque. Along with its main office in Istanbul, the company has branches in Egypt and Russia.”
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