Facebook haters have no shortage of alternatives from the nonprofit DIASPORA* to Google+. But there’s a new social network called Ello that’s been getting a ton of buzz lately. We covered Ello back in March of this year but recently, over 31,000 people an hour are trying to join Ello. Why? Because it’s not Facebook.
People who hate Facebook will be quick to mention the social network’s muddled privacy settings and policies. Ello does away with all of that. In fact, it doesn’t even have any privacy settings but that feature is coming soon, according to CEO Paul Budnitz. But perhaps the most compelling difference between Ello and Facebook is that Ello doesn’t require you to use your real name.
While many users have no issue using real names, political dissidents and members of the LGBTQ community have a real need for anonymity. Facebook has been getting bad press because of its decision to shut down profiles of drag queens and transgender users because they did not comply with Facebook’s real name policy.
Facebook’s real name policy states that users should use their “real name, as it would be listed on your credit card, driver’s license or student ID.” You can’t use nicknames, offensive words, symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization and titles. For Facebook’s full real name policy, click here.
Ello has no real name policy, which has many in the LGBTQ community flocking to experimental social network. Beyond allowing users to use aliases, Ello doesn’t sell advertisements. The site offers a manifesto (which it really wants you to share) that takes the company to a moral high ground above Facebook. “You are not a product,” it reads.
The arguments for using real names has weakened throughout the years. Google itself has removed its real name policy from the company’s Google+ social network after intense user backlash.
But is Ello any good? The social network is currently invite-only, so you’ll have to request an invite or get hooked up with an invite from a current user. Using Ello is extremely simple and features a design focus. Its profile pages immediately reminded me of the Visual Supply Company’s website and apps. Each user’s profile page features a large cover photo and a circular profile picture. Below is a user’s stream of updates. And yes, animated GIFs are supported.
Ello also combines parts of Facebook and Twitter by dividing people you follow into a list for “Friends” and “Noise.” People you’re close to are filed under Friends and users who you don’t personally know, but want to receive updates for are listed under Noise.
Anyone can follow anyone else without restriction and that’s a little scary. Ello is completely public at the moment, but privacy settings are coming. Budnitz wants to put your fears at ease by promising to enforce the company’s “zero-tolerance policy” for hate, trolls, stalking and other hurtful behavior.
We’re not trying to rule the world. We don’t need or want to be a $30 billion company.
Should Facebook and other social networks be scared? No, not really. Ello doesn’t try and replace Facebook, but it does offer users who don’t want to join Facebook somewhere to go.
“Ello isn’t designed to be perfect for everyone, and it’ll never be perfect for everyone,” said Ello designer Todd Berger.
“We’re not trying to rule the world. We don’t need or want to be a $30 billion company. We just want to build a great business,” said Budnitz.
For now, Ello’s appeal is undeniable. It’s ad and hate free environment already has users signing up in droves. Being invite-only also helps building hype for the social network.
Ello may become a successful alternative to Facebook eventually. Or it could disappear into obscurity like all the other companies that tried to take down the social networking giant like Path, App.net, Google+ and DIASPORA*. We’ll have to wait to see if Ello’s success continues when it goes public and when its venture capital funding dries up.
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