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Internet Search Engine for Muslims Filters 'Forbidden' Content Via Crowdsourcing

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, July 9 2013

Halalgoogling search results

The Internet is a dangerous place, especially for a Muslim trying to avoid haram (forbidden) content. A new search engine aims to make the Internet a safe, clean and virtuous place for Muslims around the world by filtering out unwanted sites and content. The Beta version of Halalgoogling launched on July 7.

The search engine will retrieve results from Google and Bing, but only a sanitized version.

From the Halalgoogling blog:

Everyone has the right to enjoy the possibilities that the internet offers, to learn or to use it for work, to share the fruits of scientific achievements, different literature, technical information, to trade products or offer different services etc. However, we have the right to preserve our faith, our moral and the interest of our brothers and sister worldwide. We are here to ensure that such content is not contrary to the principles of Islamic religion.

The search engine will filter out forbidden content, including “pornography, nudity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, gambling, [and] anti-Islamic content.”

Judging from comments on news stories, many have used the site just to try out the filtering capabilities. On the Times of India story, aacool writes, “It doesn't work too well, pork chops is allowed but b**bs is blocked.” Many boast that finding haram content is still quite easy.

It is. Simply by changing my key words from 'gay and lesbian rights' to 'gay rights,' I was able to access news and definitions.

Site administrators say they need Halalgoogling users to contribute to the project by flagging haram content for removal from the search results.

This is not the first time Muslims have remade a popular online tool in the name of religion. In 2010, after authorities blocked Facebook in Pakistan, Muslim developers launched MillatFacebook. They wanted a social networking site for Muslims by Muslims, but they also wanted to stick it it Zuckerberg.

People pick the news that fits their views; Halalgoogling just takes confirmation bias a step further.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.