Muzz, the world’s largest Muslim dating app, is struggling in India

Muzz, the world's largest Muslim dating app, is struggling in India

As the Covid-19 lockdown fueled the popularity of dating apps around the world, it opened the door for Muzz in India. Muzz, a marriage-focused dating app for Muslim youth, has over 8 million members from over 190 countries. But it has struggled to replicate its global success in India, home to the world’s third-largest Muslim population.

In 2019 and 2020, Muzz saw a year-on-year increase in app downloads in India compared to its global performance, according to app analytics platform Google Play and App Store downloads in India grew by 139% year-on-year in 2019 and nearly 190% in 2020. However, app growth seems to be slowing down over the past two years. Muzzs’ chief marketing officer, Sim Ahmed, declined to comment on’s figures. Muzzs’ highest growth year on record was 2021, with a slight drop in new members in 2022, he said. The rest of the world. Looking at trends in India in 2023, Muzz should have another record year if we extrapolate. Ahmed did not share any data to support his statement.

“We don’t date. We marry people.”

Muzz users and cyber security experts have said that poor user experience and lack of end-to-end encryption are among the main reasons for the app’s declining popularity in India. The rest of the world.

It’s no different than Tinder or others. Within days of creating the profile, my DMs had their fair share of feather photos, said a content manager who used Muzz on and off between 2017 and 2019 The rest of the world. She requested anonymity to protect her identity.

Muzz has over 230,000 users in India, Ahmed claimed, without specifying if these were monthly active users. He said the app has facilitated more than 2,000 marriages in the country. We want to make sure that we do things in India in a way that respects Indian Muslims, respects their Indianness and their Muslimness, and we come there with the right message and at the right time. All this is happening [at the back end]Ahmed said.

Almost 50% of India’s population is under the age of 25, making the country the second largest market for dating apps after the US. , who also invested in the potential of Indian markets. Muzz, founded in 2015 by ex-London investment banker Shahzad Younas, wants a share of that pie.

In the Indian context, where dating is still largely taboo, Muzzs’ unique selling proposition is potentially a great fit: We don’t date. We take people, Younas said The rest of the world. India is home to more than 172 million Muslims, ranking third after Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia and Pakistan, giving the app a massive target market.

If we look at comparisons within the market, Pakistan is the clearest comparison there, Ahmed said. This is not to say that there is no traction in India. It’s just that Pakistan was an easier market for us. Marketing Muzz to Indian users is something we will look at very soon, he added.

According to Ahmed, about a third of Muzz users in India are women, which is in line with the global trend of app users. For Indian Muslim women, the current socio-political environment is a challenge when they join a dating app that specifically targets a minority religion.

Women are not safe [on Muzz]. Anyone can create and use a fake ID of me, a professor from Delhi who said she was scammed by a fake account on Muzza. The rest of the world. The professor, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the details she shared, said she agreed to marry a man she met at Muzza. It turned out to be an impersonator posing as a Muslim based in London. That fraudulent account robbed her of nearly $800, she said.

In 2022, a group of conspirators searched the internet for pictures of prominent Indian Muslim women and uploaded them to an app called Bulli Bai, where they auctioned them with the intention of humiliating them. Another GitHub-hosted app called Sulli Deals held a similar sale in 2021, with women’s social media captions posted alongside the photos.

The professor is concerned that her profile information could be used in another type of Sulli Deals incident.

When asked how the company plans to navigate these risks, Younas pointed to Muzzs’ selfie features and ID verification. These grant profiles verified badges based on users’ photos and documents. However, these features do not reduce the risk of image scratching, according to experts.

“When a company says they’re not going to encrypt anything so we can monitor it, that’s a super-big red flag.”

Muzz automatically censors inappropriate language while chatting, but there is a charge for this feature. The company decided against fully encrypting messages to allow their moderators to read conversations flagged as offensive and take action, Younas said. The rest of the world. Our ability to investigate a conversation if someone is inappropriate on the platform does much more to protect our members than if it were completely encrypted, he said. Muzz has a global team of 25 female employees who take care of moderation and security. So far, the team has blocked over 400,000 accounts, Younas said.

According to Kushal Das, director of the US non-profit Python Software Foundation and a core member of the Tor Project team, this is a red flag. Tor is a network that anonymizes web traffic to provide private web browsing.

When a company says it won’t encrypt anything so we can track it, that’s a super big red flag, Das said The rest of the world. He expressed concern about how Muzz could handle a server breach or a scenario where private information leaked into the public domain. He emphasized that encryption must be the default setting and that employees should never read user chats. Can a company really say that any of its employees who have access to this data is not a stalker or will not abuse it?

Callisto Adams, relationship expert and author Texting Beyond Basics: Electrified, believes that while Muzzs’ intention may be to make users feel safe, it could end up creating a very dangerous scenario by compromising deeply personal information. Instead of being a safe space for women, knowing your conversations are constantly being monitored can have the opposite effect, Adams said. The rest of the world.

Since marriage is a prerequisite, Muzz users also often encounter intrusive personal questions that smack of profiling. Instead of ice breakers, people will start conversations like how much I earn, what traits I have and what caste I am before we even discuss hobbies and other personality aspects of a match, said Areeb Ahmed, UX designer. The rest of the world.

Even as its user base has grown, Muzz has yet to demonstrate a commitment to the welfare of Indian Muslims. In July 2022, Muzz offered to cover fines imposed on Muslim women for wearing burkinis in France. When asked if Muzz intends to support Indian Muslim women fighting for their right to wear the hijab in educational institutions, Marketing Director Ahmed said: Overall, we want to be able to support all Muslim women in expressing their religious beliefs, however they choose. .

In India I think we could [support Muslim women]. But we haven’t explored that enough, he said. I don’t think we can talk too much about it because I don’t think we’re qualified enough.

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