Religion has been in the top of tabu subjects since forever - this cannot be stated enough, and with the advent of religious movements aimed to shatter peace in the world, everybody is looking for the root cause of such drastic manifestations of sympathy towards religion at the cost of antipathy towards other humans.
Apart from mockery or any feeling of minority that certain members of a religious group may feel as a result of the majority's inability (or wilful conduct) to understand that divinity may be the core value of an individual, and that this should be respect as such, another underlying cause of distress resulting in extremist attitudes may very well be the fact that opinions of these social groups do not benefit from a direct, unhampered and anonymous avenue to express their claims, wishes, intentions or beliefs. The tech world may prove to be a booster for this, and 1Branch is one of the iterations in a new industry: social media niched on religious beliefs.
As the site's description states, 1Branch is an online social network for Christians (regardless of their denomination) to share positive things they find regarding their faith and explore difficult question among a community of like-minded individuals.
According to the official press release and Paul Etienne - the founder of 1Branch - , the main purpose of the website is to
(...) enable people to talk about issues that really matter to them, even if they are
considered off limits. I realize that our approach might be controversial, but if it’s important, it’s worth doing.
Since we mentioned it's a social network, it means it shares a lot in common with the concept: each user sees a news feed (astutely named a Mural), and users can also message each other privately. There is also a Prayer Box where users can share with each other the difficulties they are running into and seek help from kindred spirits.
What differs from a traditional social network takes place when a user signs in and he or she is required to enter a denomination, called a “Branching”. This then offers two streams of news - "Dirty Laundry” and “General". The Dirty Laundry stream allows users to post anything and everything freely and anonymously. This serves as a method to surface issues that people confrunt themselves with, and anyone within a Branch may comment on the posts to bring answers and clarification.
1Branch is based in Naples, Florida and benefits from the web design, graphics and mobile experience of Paul Etienne, an iOS and Android developer - which also meant the 1Branch is present in the Google Play and AppStore.
For idea novelty, we give them 5/5.
For design, we give them 3.5/5 - simple, slick, but not really appealing
For user experience, 4/5
For potential to scale, I give them 3.5/5
OVERALL GRADE: 4 out of 5. Difficult to predict whether the social impact will be as desired by the founder. We'll monitor its development.