Pak's 'halal' Facebook experiencing financial crunch
Islamabad: Pakistan's "halal" version of Facebook, launched nearly two years ago after authorities briefly banned the social networking website over blasphemous cartoons, is in dire financial straits and seeking donations to pay server hosting bills.
Millat Facebook sought donations to pay for its US-based servers in an email sent to its users on December 10.
However, the email was riddled with "factual errors and highly suspect claims" that cast doubts on the integrity of its owners, The Express Tribune reported.
The website still insists on calling itself "the only Facebook rival", ignoring the existence of social networking sites like Google Plus, and claims it is spending thousands of dollars for web hosting.
MillatFacebook sought donations to "help us towards our goal of keeping this Peaceful Social Network run forever and defeat blasphemer Facebook".
"As you can imagine, cost of running a social network is never easy and very costly. Current month we are facing a shortfall of 581 USD in server payments. (We are paying 1000s of USD in server payments ourselves and now need your helping hand to meet this shortfall)," the email said.
According to websitetrafficspy.Com, a leading source of internet traffic information, MillatFacebook attracts an average of two users a day.
Experts believe that with such low traffic, it would be unlikely that MillatFacebook would need to buy expensive web hosting facilities.
The website's Chief Operating Officer Umar Zaheer Meer acknowledged that the fundraising drive was not going well.
He claimed donors were reluctant to give money via credit cards owing to "cyber laws".
Meer claimed MillatFacebook had over 476,000 members but did not specify how many are active.
When it was launched in May 2010, MillatFacebook had claimed it would not have any paid advertising. However, it now has advertisements.
In contrast, Facebook has over one billion active users, including more than eight million Pakistanis.
MillatFacebook was launched soon after the Lahore High Court banned Facebook over a competition for blasphemous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed.
Muhammad Azhar Siddique, who filed a petition that led to brief ban on Facebook, convinced Meer to start the website.
Soon after the launch of MillatFacebook, the High Court restored access to Facebook after authorities put in place measures to block webpages featuring the blasphemous caricatures.