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A new social networking site for ultra-Orthodox Jews takes customary segregation of the sexes online and also bars pictures or ads deemed immodest in ultra-Orthodox society.
Go to www.faceglat.com and the home page has signs in Hebrew and English directing men to click on to the right of the page and women to the left.
Sign up and you will see a page identical to those on Facebook, but here photos posted on a man’s wall may only be of other men; likewise for the women’s side.
The virtual divide mirrors the practice at Orthodox Jewish synagogues, weddings and other events where the sexes are physically separated. On certain public bus lines running through ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods, women must stand at the back, to the outrage of feminists.
Israeli news website Ynet says FaceGlat — Glatt is a term used in kosher food certification — was founded by Yaakov Swissa from the Habad hassidic movement.
“It’s not an alternative for Facebook, but something intended for a particular public,” Ynet quoted him as saying.
“I believe that it would be much more convenient for a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) man or woman to publish pictures and all kinds of other things to people of the same sex only.
“People who are God-fearing and care about their children’s education cannot tolerate the ads and pictures one sees on the regular Facebook,” he added.
The site also allows users to block comments or statuses which they don’t approve of.
Swissa states, however, that the site is not designed to push a particular religious agenda. It is, instead, meant for people already engaged in social networking:
“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.”
Men who sign in to FaceGlat as men cannot visit or post on the women’s wall and vice versa, although at the moment there seems to be nothing preventing a member of either sex signing up under a false name and details.
Ynet says that plans for the site’s future include modifications to prevent gender impersonation as well as a specialised news section.–AFP