Seeks funds from members to run the social network

Pakistan’s version of a ‘halal’ Facebook is apparently in the red and is seeking funds to keep itself afloat if emails sent out to members is anything to go by. According to The Express Tribune, MillatFacebook (MFB) sent out emails in early December asking money from its members to pay for the U.S.-based servers.

“As you can imagine, cost of running a social network is… very costly. Current month we are facing a shortfall of $581 in server payments. [We are paying 1000s of dollars in server payments ourselves….] We are asking for a contribution from you that will help us towards our goal of keeping this Peaceful Social Network run forever and defeat blasphemer facebook. inshaALLAH, Aameen. Any amount that you can contribute would be greatly appreciated,” said the e-mail.

Chief operating officer Umar Zaheer Meer was quoted by the newspaper as conceding that the appeal for funds had not found many takers. The MFB is said to have a membership base of over four lakhs and also has a Facebook account which remains a much-in-demand social networking platform among Pakistanis; more so because of the shrinking space for public expression.

In its `About’ column, MFB says `M’ stands for Muslim, Makkah, Madina and Prophet Mohammad. “MFB is Ummah’s very own, first social networking site launched on May 25, 2010.” The website was launched after the Lahore High Court banned Facebook after some members started a `Everybody Draw Mohammad Day’ competition.

Mr. Meer was encouraged to launch what was billed as an alternative to Facebook by the petitioner in the case in the hope that the ban on Facebook would be permanent. That hope was dashed when the ban was lifted by the month-end.

According to the MFB team, the objective was to provide a platform for all Muslims and “nice, decent and sophisticated people of all religious and faiths” to come together and make a network. “They should interact in a way that is socially responsible by providing them all the freedom of expression, however respecting each others’ sentiments, sensitivities and beliefs.”

Though constructed along the lines of Facebook the team insists that their site should not be called a `Facebook clone,’ MFB claims to offer opportunity to ‘View Live Kaaba,’ blogs, public chat rooms besides halal recipes.

However, The Express Tribune report — citing data from Website Traffic Spy.com — said MFB attracts an average of two visitors a day.

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