Logon to Facegloria and you will be greeted by a Facebook blue sky with fluffy wafting clouds. At the same time, gospel music plays out. Facegloria is the social networking site set up by Brazilian Evangelicals to create a ‘sin-free Facebook’. The site has been up and running for a month and has already attracted over 100,000 users.
There are some notable differences between Facegloria and Facebook. For instance, a post is not ‘liked’. Rather, people can click on ‘Amen’ to show their approval. Atilla Barros, web designer and one of the founders of Facegloria, stated:
On Facebook you see a lot of violence and pornography. That’s why we thought of creating a network where we could talk about God, love and to spread His word.
The idea began around three years ago, when Barros and three others decided that a clean version of the immensely popular social media site was needed. Some 202 million people live in Brazil, 42 million of which are believed to be Evangelical and the movement is growing. Hence, there may indeed be an immediate need for a clean Facebook version.
Facegloria was started using around $16,000, which has been paid for by the mayor of Ferraz de Vasconcelos. The platform can be used by anyone who is willing to stick to the rules, which are significant. A list of at least 600 words that are forbidden has been provided. Furthermore, content, videos and photographs cannot be violent, erotic or in support of homosexual activities.
We want to be morally and technically better than Facebook. We want all Brazilian Evangelicals to shift to Facegloria.
At present, around 20 volunteers monitor the website in order to make sure that the rules are being followed. They also decide whether selfies are allowed on the site or not. Indeed, if an image contains alcohol or tobacco, they scrutinize it before deciding whether or not it can be allowed. Nevertheless, the volunteers feel their job is reasonably easy as the general public that uses Facegloria does not generally post those types of photographs anyway.
The Evangelical movement in Brazil is growing. In 1980, just 6% of Brazilians were identified with the movement, but this now stands at 22%. This in stark contrast to the Catholics, which was 90% in 1980 and is now just 63%. This means that, if this continues, Evangelicals will be the largest religion in the country by 2040, and they want to make sure Facegloria is ready.
Evangelicals believe that each individual is responsible for his own behavior and must act accordingly if he wants to receive help from God. This message is resonating in the favelas and other poor outskirts of the cities. The influence the Evangelicals have can be seen in all of Brazil. For instance, Edir Macedo’s autobiographical books have been bestsellers over the past two years. Macedo is the founder of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which is a highly powerful church that he started in 1977. Macedo also owns the third biggest media group in the country. Evangelicals are also found in parliament and in various other political arenas. It is hoped that this presence will ensure Facegloria becomes highly popular very rapidly.
In two years we hope to get to 10 million users in Brazil. In a month we have had 100,000 and in two we are expecting a big increase thanks to a mobile phone app.
Indeed, the network also aims to go global, as the domain has been purchased in all languages. Their goal is to take on other social media websites, offering a cleaner and holier alternative.