Ello: An Anti-Facebook Social Network

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In the past week you may have heard people start to talk about something called Ello. Though it sounds like a cockney-accented greeting, it’s actually a new social networking site with one major selling point: It doesn’t have any advertisements.

It’s certainly not the first alternate social network to Facebook, and while it could just be a fleeting trend, it’s getting a buttload of attention. So what’s all the fuss over?

Created by designer and entrepreneur Paul Budnitz, Ello contends that on social networks like Facebook, we, the users, are the product, as our data is sold to advertisers who hope to entice us with ads on our feeds. Ello, on the other hand, positions itself as an antidote to that: It doesn’t include any ads, and one of the several manifestos posted on the site says that those behind Ellodislike ads more than almost anyone else out there.” It doesn’t sell user data to third parties either, and you can decide whether or not you want to let it gather information about your own Ello activity to improve the site.

So exactly how is Ello going to make money?

Very soon the website will begin offering special features to its users. Users can choose to pay for the special features they like. A very small amount of money will be charged to add it to their Ello account forever.

How is the No ad policy a challenge?

Many other social networks (like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, etc.) started out ad-free, and then suddenly switched gears. They modified their privacy policies, started selling information about their users to data brokers, and bombarded its users with ads. After this many users of these networks felt betrayed. But Ello’s entire structure is based around a no-ad and no data-mining policy. And if it were to break this commitment, it would lose most of the Ello community.

But aesthetics aren’t the only reason Ello might be better for creatives. “Facebook, politically, is not a good place for free expression,” said Budnitz. The dominant social network is known to freely censor images that it deems inappropriate and it doesn’t allow its members to use pseudonyms, a problem for those who take more liberty with their identities. The naming policy at Facebook is really pushing a lot of artists who work under aliases are now moving to Ello for that freedom.

Ello began its invite-only “beta” test (i.e. trial in the final stages of development) in August with 90 people, and while it may not be clear how many people are currently using it, Ello is now getting up to 31,000 requests for invites per hour. In a smartphone-obsessed world, that’s a lot of attention for a social network that doesn’t even have an app yet. One current feature of Ello allows you to join the site only if you get an invitation from a friend already having an Ello account.

Despite the long to-do list, Ello is off to an intriguing start. After all, there’s always room for a social network that is both pretty to look at and a pleasure to use.

The question is, would you want to join Ello?

Do let us know what you think about this new social network.

Ratanpriya Sharma

Image Source [Ello]

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