In July, a mysterious social network begin making it’s rounds online with little success. The platform named “Ello”, bearing a logo of nothing but a black, eyeless smiley face, was accepting members at a sluggish rate. But since July, Ello is picking up momentum, so much momentum that it’s receiving 4000 member requests per hour. That’s requests, not actual members, because Ello is invite only, much like facebook formerly being strictly for college use. By receiving your intial invitation, you can create an account, register an avatar, a cover photo, make posts, and do the normal social networking routine. However, Ello looks very different inside, and it might take a second to realize, there’s absolutely NO ads.
Ello almost resembles the back end of a site that nobody sees, providing a more intimate environment for it’s users. With the new found Facebook controversy of drag queens being booted off for using aliases, and more privacy invading questions being asked, people are growing weary of exposing personal information time and time again. As a shift in popular social media is picking up speed, Ello is here at the right place right time. In light of seemingly endless privacy concerns such as recent celebrity cloud hacks, phishing scams, NSA privacy violations, and Facebooks increasing personal data collection + selling of info for advertising there of course was a niche carved out waiting for the ANTI facebook, which it boldly proclaims itself to be.
The actual operation of Ello is in it’s beta stage, which is very apparent once you log in. Things are not nearly as intuitive as Facebook. but also they are vastly simpler. There are two categories, “Friends and Noise”, much like Google Plus Circles. The site is proclaimed to be invented by artists and designers, hence the extreme minimalism. As the first adopters are mostly artists, performers, creative types, and members of the LGBTQ community it’s clear Ello has a target demographic of sorts.
Currently Ello has proclaimed is openness to NSFW content, something Facebook is not keen on, but simultaneously Tumblr very much is. In order to collect revenue and maintain the, a few dollars here and there can be spent in the future to customize your page, manage multiple accounts etc. Also, Ello has rules, apparently, but has changed them a few times to assure people of their openness to all types of content. The real question is will Ello be able to handle it’s rise to popularity on it’s current financial structure, as more users will require more power to run.
“Ello doesn’t mine or sell data or have ads, so we invite people to be who they want to be on Ello” Mr. Budnitz (co founder of Ello) said. “There is no reason for us to require people to use real names.” People are hoping Ello can withstand the onslaught of new members as it rises in popularity, and thus requiring better servers = potentially alot of money, while remaining commercial free. Making it’s rounds in social media platforms, there is the now viral Ello Manifesto reading “…We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.”