Technology

Search Engine Targets Muslim Users


By John Ribeiro

Bangalore - A new search engine, called ImHalal.com, aims to protect the sensibilities of Muslims by filtering out content that is haram or forbidden by the faith.

The site will warn people if they are searching for a query that might return explicit content, site-founder Reza Sardeha said in an e-mail on Friday.

Besides developing the search technology, Sardeha and others in his team, based in the Netherlands, have also introduced a two layer filter.

When users get a haram rating of level one or two out of three, they are advised to choose another keyword to search, but they can still continue their search if they believe the results fetched will be clean, Sardeha said.

Words like porn and rape are considered to be at a rating of three, and are blocked, he added. Terms like beer and pork, however, get a haram rating of one because users cannot consume them off the Internet.

The site was launched earlier this month, and has received more than 400,000 unique visitors so far, Sardeha said. The promoters are considering using advertising as a revenue stream for the site, he added.

Muslims have become very active on the Internet in the last few years but there is a lack of tools to assist in safe or responsible online activities.

ImHalal.com aims to create a safe and clean environment for Muslims to search the Web, it said.

Mainstream search engines have comes in for criticism in many parts of the world for displaying content that is offensive to the local culture, and even against local laws. A social activist in India for example has filed a complaint in an Indian court against major search engines for displaying advertising and information on child sex selection techniques. Such advertising is against the law in India.

In some nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, some Web sites are actively filtered.

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