The Shmooze

Facebook-Like Site FaceGlat To Serve Gender-Segregated Haredi Population

By Renee Ghert-Zand

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The term “Glatt kosher” doesn’t just refer to meat anymore. It’s now for social networking, too — at a website that is specifically designed to avoid the meat market aspects of the online world. Ynet reports that there is now a Facebook-type site, aimed at the gender-segregated Haredi population, called FaceGlat.

If you are a guy who trolls social networking sites to get a glimpse of some hot babes, or a woman searching for a nice guy to date, then FaceGlat will not be to your taste. Women and men may only sign up for separate sections of the site, and cannot access accounts of anyone of the other gender. It’s a tsnius (modesty) thing.

The brainchild of 25-year-old Yaakov Swisa of Kfar Chabad in Israel, FaceGlat packs loads of filters to block specific words or types of comments, and to prevent men from sneaking into the women’s section or women from peaking over the virtual mechitzah. The site is still in a start-up phase, and Swisa has said that its setup may need to be tweaked “if the website in its current format leads to ‘negative activity,’ as defined by Swisa, or attracts people who don’t even own a Facebook account at the moment,” according to Ynet.

Swisa pointed out that FaceGlat is actually for Facebook users. He is trying to woo Facebook users over to his site, which does not have the type of ads that Swisa and his community consider inappropriate. “I personally know people who have deteriorated spiritually because of all kinds of things they were introduced to there [on Facebook],” he said.

Ironically, FaceGlat, a site with a name that could not be any more kosher, is not about making social networking kosher, according to its founder. “We’re not making it kosher, but reducing the prohibition…We want to provide a different, cleaner option for those who are already there. If it encourages people to open accounts or waste their time instead of studying Torah — it’s a failure. It’s not worth a thing. I promised myself that if that happened I would close it down.”

Swisa may mean to be genuine in his sentiments, but the entrepreneur’s statement comes across as bit halfhearted. The success of FaceGlat depends on the ultra-Orthodox community being just as addicted to posting and reading status updates, photos and links as the rest of us.

And the obvious question is whether another Jewish social media entrepreneur (you know, that young guy named Zuckerberg) is going to think that there is something not so kosher about Swisa’s website’s name.


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