Riding high on a backlash against Facebook, following the company’s decision to bar drag performers from registering using their stage personas, social networking startup Ello is aiming to be a giant killer. Ello, which launched in July, is promoting itself as a less exploitive version of the world’s largest social networking site.
“Your social network is owned by advertisers,” Ello said in the first line of its corporate manifesto. “Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.”
Ello claims that it is different. “You are not a product,” the company said, adding that the site will not carry ads or collect data on its users. Instead, Ello says it will make money by selling users premium themes and design tools for their personal pages.
The site is currently in beta, with membership being restricted by an “invite only” policy that seems designed to capitalize on exclusivity -- much like Facebook originally restricted membership to Harvard students. Some Ello users have taken to auctioning invites on eBay for those desperate to try the service. Artist Paul Budnitz, who founded the company, said the pitch is working. Around 27,000 people are signing up for the site every hour and the company’s servers were briefly overwhelmed by the traffic, he said.
The site features a stripped-down design aesthetic, in contrast to Facebook’s busy interface. Ello also appears to borrow heavily from the scrolling interfaces of Twitter and Tumblr. But despite the company’s claims that the site will eschew advertising, it has already allowed companies to create their own profiles. Budnitz himself owns a bicycle shop that has its own page on the site.
Google Plus Redux
However, anger at Facebook for mining its users' data for information that could be sold to advertisers or manipulating people’s emotional states by tinkering with their news feeds has so far not been enough to draw people away from the social network. Even Google Plus, armed with the full resources of the company, has not been able to put a dent in Facebook’s armor.
Ello may face similar problems. While there is no dearth of rage directed at Facebook for all the controversy its policies have generated, users may not be in agreement about what they want in a replacement. Diaspora tried to position itself as the social network for the privacy- and security-conscious crowd, but then failed to draw a critical mass of users to make itself valuable. And while Google Plus is a perfectly functional social networking tool, it provides no compelling reason to abandon Facebook for it.
Posted: 2014-09-27 @ 10:29am PT
I love Google Plus! It took me a few weeks to figure it out last year, but it is soooo amazing now. I hate Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, My MOM uses instagram! No way, hombre. But me and my friends use Hangouts and share in our circle all the time. It's super fun. I may try ello, but why again?
Posted: 2014-09-26 @ 11:40pm PT
You really need to do some homework. Google Plus is not in competition with Facebook but Google Plus will overtake Facebook by 2016. Do some research.