Two years after its launch, Pakistan’s ‘halal’ social networking website MillatFacebook is reportedly facing a cash-crunch and its founders are appealing for donations to keep it afloat.

Launched after Pakistan banned Facebook in 2010, the Islam-friendly social networking website was supposed to function as a substitute for Pakistani nationals who wanted to connect with their friends. An email sent out to MillatFacebook users on December 10 urged them to donate in order to keep the site going.

The email says that the donations will be used to pay for the servers that host the site, which are based in the United States of America. A leading Pakistan daily, the Express Tribune wrote, “The email was riddled with factual errors and highly suspect claims, casting doubts on the integrity and intellectual capacity of its owners.”

The 'halal' social networking site is in the red

The 'halal' social networking site is in the red

MillatFacebook claims to be the only rival to social networking giant Facebook and claims it spends thousands of dollars on web hosting. It also states that it needs to raise $581 through donations in order to pay for the costs.

As you can imagine, cost of running a social network is never easy and very costly. Current month we are facing a shortfall of 581USD (sic) in server payments. (We are paying 1000s of USD in server payments ourselves and now need your helping hand to meet this shortfall)… Any amount that you can contribute would be greatly appreciated,” read the email.

The Express Tribune reports that the fundraising drive was not going too well, by the Chief Operating Officer Umar Zaheer Meer’s own admission. According to Meer, MillatFacebook has over 476,000 members, but according to website traffic calculator,, the site attracts only about 300 users a day.

MillatFacebook was launched in 2010, days after the Lahore High Court banned Facebook on charges of hosting blasphemous material. The website was touted as the only rival to Facebook in Pakistan. However, access to Facebook was restored in Pakistan soon after, not allowing MillatFacebook to garner enough users.

This instance was not the only one where Facebook came under fire in Pakistan. In May 2012, an FIR was lodged in Islamabad against Facebook and three other websites for hosting blasphemous content. The directions to file an FIR came in response to an application filed by the Namoos-e-Risalat Lawyers Forum.

Google-owned YouTube too has come under attack in Pakistan in the past few months for hosting an anti-Islam film. In October 2012, Pakistani authorities blocked access to about 20,000 websites, including YouTube, citing objectionable content. The objectionable content hosted on the blocked websites included footage from the anti-Islam movie 'Innocence of Muslims'.

In late December though, a ray of hope for Internet users in Pakistan came in the form the ban on YouTube being lifted, although only for a few minutes. The 103-day ban on YouTube seemed to have been lifted, but it lasted for just around half an hour as reports poured in that the film that forced the ban in the first place was still being hosted on the website.

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