A ‘sin-free’ alternative to Facebook, set up by a group of Brazilian evangelical Christians, has gained 100,000 users in its first month.
Facegloria is aiming to convince Brazil’s 42 million evangelicals to switch to the Christian social network from Facebook, which the site’s founders claim purveys sinful content such as violence and pornography.
The new site is monitored by more than 20 volunteers, who vet sexually explicit content and remove swearwords and other offensive phrases which fall under a list of approximately 600 prohibited words.
Co-founder Atilla Barros told news agency AFP that the team hoped to have 10 million users within two years and that they were expecting a rush of users in the coming months when they launch their mobile app.
“We want to be morally and technically better than Facebook. We want all Brazilian evangelicals to shift to Facegloria,” said Barros.
The idea for the site was born three years ago and the four-person founding team received financial support from the mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, a municipality in the state of São Paulo, as they raised $16,000 (€14,500) to set up the project.
The Brazilian site lacks the popular ‘Like’ feature by which Facebook users endorse each other’s content. Instead, Facegloria users can click ‘Amen’ to show their appreciation for their friends’ posts and photos.
Acir dos Santos, the mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos, told AFP that the network hoped to grow into a challenger of some of social media’s biggest names and that the team had purchased the site’s domain name in a multitude of languages, indicating plans for global expansion in the future.
“We want to take on Facebook and Twitter here and everywhere,” said dos Santos.
If it’s going to happen, Brazil is probably the ideal place for a Christian social network to begin. It has the world’s largest Roman Catholic population, with some 123 million Brazilians identifying as Roman Catholic. More than 40% of the world’s Roman Catholics live in Latin America.
However, the country also has a growing evangelical population, which has increased from 6% to 22% in the past 35 years, with the Catholic proportion dropping from 90% to 63% in the same period. If this rate of change continues, evangelicals are expected to outnumber Catholics by 2040.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that 54% of Brazilian Protestants, which includes evangelical Christians, said they were raised as Catholics but had changed affiliation.
Other religious groups have also created social networks aimed specifically at their adherents. Ummaland, which markets itself as a social network for Muslims and offers extended privacy settings for female users, claims to have almost 330,000 registered users.