After two years, Millat Facebook is on the verge of collapse

Published: January 2, 2013

In an e-mail sent out to its users on December 10, MillatFacebook appealed for donations to pay its servers, which it says are based in the United States. DESIGN: MUHAMMAD SUHAIB

LAHORE: 

Anti-western anger may bring out street power, but, at least in Pakistan, does not appear to be commercially viable. MillatFacebook, meant to be a religio-nationalistic alternative to the global social network Facebook, is in dire financial straits and is seeking donations to pay its server hosting bills.

In an e-mail sent out to its users on December 10, MillatFacebook appealed for donations to pay its servers, which it says are based in the United States. Yet the e-mail was riddled with factual errors and highly suspect claims, casting doubts on the integrity and intellectual capacity of its owners.

The website, for instance, insists on calling itself “the only Facebook rival”, ignoring the existence of a wide range of social networks such as Google Plus, LinkedIn, and others. The e-mail starts off with a person introducing themselves only as “S.O.A.” and then launching into a poorly worded e-mail appealing for funds. In the e-mail, the company claims to be spending thousands of dollars on its web hosting, and then says that it is looking to raise $581 from its users in order to defray those 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). 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.

The claim that the website requires thousands of dollars in web-hosting costs seems dubious. According to websitetrafficspy.com, a leading source of internet traffic information, millatfacebook.com attracts an average of two users a day. With traffic that low, it seems unlikely that MillatFacebook would need to buy expensive web hosting facilities.

The website is asking its donors to give money through credit card payments on its homepage, but Chief Operating Officer Umar Zaheer Meer admitted to The Express Tribune that the fundraising drive was not going well. He claimed that donors were reluctant to give money via credit cards owing to “cyber laws” which he did not specify.The Meers

According to Meer, MillatFacebook has over 476,000 members, though he did not specify how many were active. When it was launched, MillatFacebook claimed that it would not have any paid advertising, though it now has ads and still seems to be struggling to pay its bills. By contrast, the Silicon Valley-based Facebook has over one billion active users as of October 2012 and had annual revenues exceeding $3.7 billion in 2011. According to a recent report, more than eight million Pakistanis use Facebook.

The website was launched in May 25, 2011, six days after the Lahore High Court issued an order banning Facebook, after one of the website’s users created a competition called “Everyone Drawn Muhammad [PBUH] Day”. Muhammad Azhar Siddique, the man who filed the petition that resulted in that temporary ban, convinced Omer Zaheer Meer, now CEO of MillatFacebook, to start the website. The hope was that the ban on Facebook would be permanent, forcing many Pakistanis to look for an alternative.

The website was launched at a ceremony at the Lahore High Court Bar Association and was billed as the alternative to Facebook. Yet, unluckily for the founders, access to Facebook was restored on May 30, 2010, snuffing out any chance the website may have had to catch on amongst Pakistani internet users.

The Meers appear to despise Facebook, yet have designed MillatFacebook to look almost exactly like their supposed rival. Users of both websites, however, say that MillatFacebook is a far less functional website, with one user going so far as to say that “the quality of user experience is so abysmal that it does not merit the humble title, ‘Facebook clone’.”

MillatFacebook is not even the first social network targeting Muslims. Naseeb.com, also based in Lahore, was launched in 2003 and precedes even Facebook.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2013.                

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Silver Fang
    Jan 2, 2013 - 12:53AM

    Good riddance to bad websites.

    Recommend

  • Jan 2, 2013 - 1:56AM

    “MillatFacebook has over 476,000 members”

    Seriously? Who said that?

    According to Traffic/Global Alexa rank, total number of users/visitors to their site are like 5K i guess! You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to keep the servers up for such a site.

    Current month we are facing a shortfall of 581USD (sic) in server
    payments.

    Here comes another lie, if you don’t believe me then contact Blue host or Host gator and ask them how much money you need to keep a site up for 5K Users! It’s around 300$ (add 250$ if you need dedicated servers for ultimate performance).

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  • Ahmed
    Jan 2, 2013 - 2:05AM

    Can we at least have a millat youtube, perhaps ? Please.

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  • A Khan
    Jan 2, 2013 - 3:12AM

    Another fraud being committed in the name of religion.

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  • waleed
    Jan 2, 2013 - 3:20AM

    They are using the “Islam” brand just like every other maulvis. these guys never had chances to even come close to the rival.

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  • Foolitics
    Jan 2, 2013 - 5:29AM

    Anti western millatfacebooks servers are based in the…..west. :-)

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  • Jan 2, 2013 - 6:05AM

    Even the path to Utopian Socialism is paved with the bricks of capitalism…

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  • Abbas
    Jan 2, 2013 - 12:06PM

    Can’t believe this is the first time i’m hearing about this supposed Facebook rival no regrets . If anything they should”ve at least come up with an original name

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  • Jan 2, 2013 - 12:21PM

    This is what happens to cheap knockoffs. They copied the entire FB site page by page and customized it. You could even find links that still pointed to original FB.

    Anyways, do something innovative this time guys

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  • Raza Khan
    Jan 2, 2013 - 12:41PM

    Just like Mecca Cola another fad goes away! Do not mix “Religion” with marketing!

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  • umarZ
    Jan 2, 2013 - 12:47PM

    what a stupid way to do.. If you call yourself rivals and anti fbs then why at first place you stole their name?

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  • saleem
    Jan 2, 2013 - 3:51PM

    remember Mecca Cola

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  • Turbo Lover
    Jan 2, 2013 - 5:51PM

    How about a millat YouTube? Then they will unblock it since Pakistan policies seem to strangle businesses.

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  • cautious
    Jan 2, 2013 - 6:48PM

    Anti Western Facebook using American servers — classic Pakistan.

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  • rizwan
    Jan 2, 2013 - 7:39PM

    I know this guy, really interesting character… he is pretend to fight against jewish or west by using their piece of software did not even bother to develop his own.

    poor software with poor design on it.

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  • Wasiq
    Jan 3, 2013 - 10:35AM

    This is not the first time a company has gone under. I fail to understand that why a website so small is the tribune business section headline for past two days?

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  • P@r!
    Jan 3, 2013 - 2:46PM

    Get your facts right before publishing!this article shows how biased our “local”media is..
    How true all your “SUSPECTS” are is proven by the fact that you are writing an article on a site and you are not even aware of it’s traffic seriously..2 members??hahaha..i am a regular member myself how come my friends are also online simultaneously whilst the great reporter has reported that there are only 2 members using it!then i must be wrong!

    And to whose who say that mfb is lying since it has “5k” visitors per day and claims to have 476,000 members,well i guess there is a difference b/w “MEMBERS” & “VISITORS” and to attract the current members it obviously needs to have more capital to invest which will be collected from donations since it is not sponsored by some zionists or any other strong group!

    Since the site is not supported by the zionist system then of course it has to welcome all these rude remarks!

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  • Jan 3, 2013 - 6:24PM

    Why on earth stupid stuff is always carried out by pakistanis. I mean by having millatfacebook name is stupid for start. basically this is promoting facebook. and a website running cost shouldn’t be more than 500 USD per year. someone corrupt is trying to squeez money out of Govt.

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  • Asif
    Jan 4, 2013 - 2:16PM

    Two users daily???
    hahaha
    you don’t know what are you writing about…
    Please do some research about what you are writing

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  • nepha
    Jan 6, 2013 - 4:59PM

    oh well, this guy surely dont know how to run a professional site. First, they BUY the phpfox cms and claimed to develop it themself. Secondly, they STEAL emoticons of yahoo and skype, I wonder if yahoo or skype going to sue mfb for copyright issue. Thirdly, they LIED about never allowed ads, they did put some banners (some medicine ads, hotels, and PTI banner, and yes they said the PTI paid for that banner).
    They do use dedicated server from some netherland hosting provider. But it cost about 250 euro not 500 dollars.

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