Social media bible religion meets Twitter

What to call a Christian version of Twitter? Chritter? Twistian?

No, Florida entrepreneur James Paris has settled instead on Christian Chirp. Adopting the tagline "The Christian alternative to Twitter", this microblogging site does everything associated with its established rival from status updates and direct messages to follows and apps. But there's a twist. Christian Chirp is aimed at one demographic and one demographic only – "a community of Christians".

Social media for the masses

Leaving aside question marks about the name, there's another potential issue with Christian Chirp. Does it go against the ethos of social media? Web 2.0 has been with us for a good few years now but its main characteristic remains the same – everybody can contribute.

Love it or loathe it, Twitter is open to all. People can tweet regardless of their beliefs about religion, politics, sexuality or whatever. It's not a communication medium where one ideology prevails, in the same way that other communication methods such as the telephone and email aren't exclusive.

Web 2.0 gets ideological

The last few years have witnessed an explosion in the number of ideology-based web 2.0 sites. On the religious front, we have the likes of BuddhistConnect, and Muxlim. Meanwhile, Conservapedia is a wiki that aims to counter perceived liberal bias in Wikipedia and "give due credit to conservatism and Christianity". Complaints have duly streamed in over its handling of topics such as homosexuality, Judaism and evolution. Meanwhile, media commentators have pointed out that people who disagree with Wikipedia articles are free to make changes anyway – after all, they're open to everyone.

Tweets or chirps?

The purpose of this blog is not to criticise specialist social media portals or their users, but to question whether they're really filling a gap in the market. In my experience, people who join these sites still spend the vast majority of their time on Facebook and Twitter because, put simply, that's where their friends are. Very few people have a social network built entirely round one aspect of their lives so they value the inclusiveness of general sites.

Facebook and Twitter let you keep track of all your friends, organisations and networks whether religious or otherwise. And in the final analysis, that's probably why they'll continue to dominate while specialist social media sites like Christian Chirp remain on the margins.

Richard Frost