A new Christian-based social network has been officially launched recently by the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Porto Velho (RO), Brazil. "Hizby," which is the brain child of businessman Junior Gonçalves, is looking to become a new platform to help Christians network with one another and has already signed up more than 3,500 users.
Gonçalves established Hizby to create a less liberal, and more discrete environment that would not expose users to bad images. According to him, Hizby has the goal to offer an "intuitive and clean platform that can encourage people to make a difference on the Internet."
"I was a user of other networks like Facebook and Twitter and, as an evangelical Christian, I missed a space to discuss issues about religion which is important to stir thought and build knowledge on such issues," said Gonçalves, according to G1 Brazilian publication.
Gonçalves received support from a specialized team to make the website, a work that took six months to finish. Hizby, which means "make a difference," received investment of 300,000 Reais BRL (around $147,652 USD) from entrepreneurs and investors around the country.
"Our goal is to reach 200,000 participants by December 2012," Junior said. So far the website is rapidly increasing its membership and potentially could sign up a lot more than that number by then.
Already many users are delighted by the new site, and have commented that they planned to drop other secular social networking sites and migrate to Hizby. Some have described Hizby as "healthier."
"My goal is to leave the other social networks and migrate all my friends to Hizby. It is healthier and we are not susceptible to content not of interest," said user Cation France, a computer technician.
The creation and initial success of the network reflects the growth of evangelicals in the country, which has now reached 42.3 million, representing 22.2 percent of the population, according to census results from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) released at the end of last month.
The state of Rondonia, where the network was created, has the greatest concentration of evangelicals in the country, with 33.8 percent of the population.
Those who are interested in joining the Hizby Internet community can find it at hizby.com where they can register and sign up in just a few minutes.
Hizby offers also a wall, photos, chat and interesting tools related to religion such as "Church," "Prayed for me," and "Witnesses."
"We have the option to see discussions among pastors, sow and pray for our friends, which is helpful to nourish our faith," said Cation.
Hizby is not exclusive to evangelicals and anyone can join the network as long as they follow the rules, such as the prohibition on immodest comments and images and profanity, among others.