Is Ello Here To Solve All Your Social Media Problems?

Above: A screenshot of 'Ello'

With the explosion of social media has come the endless debate about privacy. On one hand there is the convenience of being able to connect with anyone around the world via Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, but on the other, is the obvious question of who else is watching you. The internet is full of people lying about who they are, what they want, and what they are looking to gain, and we make it easy for them by putting our information out there willingly.

Ello is a new, exclusive social media networking site that claims to put your right to privacy, first. The site’s manifesto is as follows:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

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.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

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.

Ello started out as a private social network meant for only the group of artists and programmers that created it, but demand has led them to build a public version for everyone to use. Their self-proclaimed label of anti-Facebook has definitely sparked the interest of a lot of people, and they have been getting up to 35,000 invite requests every hour in the last week. It seems people are fed up with the constant ads, and all around controlling nature of Facebook, especially since the controversial enforcement of their “real-names policy” which has led to many people who use stage names (drag queens in San Francisco for example) having their profiles deleted.

Facebook has its privacy settings, and tells you that you can easily keep all your information safe, but they are still tracking your activity, from the fan pages you like, to the links you click, to the photos you comment on. While Ello is still going the route of using Google Analytics to understand their users and make their site better, they actually give you the option to opt out of tracking. No social media site (at least ones that are trying to make money) has ever done that before.

Tracking on social media has taken a lot of the guess work out of figuring out what consumers like. But at the same time, the act of “liking” something has become a mindless, almost meaningless numbers game. For example, 164 million people have “liked” Facebook on Facebook. Redundant, no?

Nevertheless, social media companies are in the game to make money. They offer us a free service, we use it, and they use the information we provide to sell advertisements. So, how exactly is Ello going to make money? Their website states that they are committed to their original no-ad, no data-mining policy, and that will never change. They go on to explain that as the site grows that will offer special features that users can purchase to customize their profile, and the money will be used to continue to grow the site, and sustain the no-ad policy for the future.

For now, Ello is offering an alternative to social media sites that are more about business and profit than the user’s needs. But every new site claims to offer something better than everyone else at first, until they can no longer operate without money coming in. The ad-free, ultra-private social media thing sounds great, but how long will it last? The more people that start using it, the less private it will be, and unfortunately, that is just the reality of social media.

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