Social Network Ello bills itself as yet another anti-Facebook

by Matt Klassen on October 1, 2014

I would wager a guess that most rank-and-file Facebook users don’t give a second thought to the control that the dominant social network exerts over their lives, for if there’s one brilliant thing Mark Zuckerberg and Co. have accomplished, it’s convincing the world that Facebook is the way social networking should be done. In fact, the company has done this so well that Facebook has become synonymous with social networking, almost forcing us to think that the firm holds the keys to the social networking world. Fortunately for us, that’s far from the truth.

In an effort to break the world free from its Matrix-like Facebook captivity a new social network launched recently, one that touts a true social experience, without ads, without information collection, without turning its users into its product. In fact, resisting the urge to turn its users into a commodity to sell to advertisers seems to be the entire marketing backbone of Ello, a minimalist social network currently in beta testing that has billed itself as yet another anti-Facebook.

While it’s clear that the invite-only site is the flavour of the month when it comes to fringe social networking, I have to wonder if it will have anymore staying power than the anti-Facebook social networks that have come before it. Remember Unthink? Of course you don’t, as its social revolution is still under construction more than three years after appearing on the scene. Simply put, if you’re looking for a Facebook alternative, there are several reasons why Ello is not the answer you’re looking for.

“Your social network is owned by advertisers,” Ello says, adding that every post, friend and link is tracked meticulously by competing social networks, and all of that data is used to help advertisers send you ads. “You are the product that’s bought and sold.”

Now don’t get me wrong when I say Ello may not be right for you, as the burgeoning social network’s anti-Facebook manifesto is right on the money, for as acolytes of the almighty Zuckerberg you are nothing more than a commodity, as your searches, activity, location, pictures and posts are all tracked in an effort to develop a comprehensive picture about your wants and needs that is then sold to advertisers; but if you didn’t know this already…well shame on you.

But as PCWorld’s Caitlin McGarry notes, despite all the hype “Ello is not the revelatory social network that will finally kill Facebook.” While it stands as an interesting alternative (particularly for a large drag queen community who are currently spurring on the Facebook exodus) the reality is that its still in its early stages, it suffers from several fatal flaws, and finally, if it is to succeed it won’t be able to do so for long as a counterpoint to Facebook.

As McGarry notes, the site lacks any sort of privacy controls, not a great feature for those looking to escape Facebook’s Big Brother feel. In fact, all profiles on the network are completely public, with no blocking or ignoring features available. If you’re looking to escape somewhere safe…well this isn’t the place.

Further, while there’s some attraction to the minimalist design, there seems to be several inherent problems with the platform, mostly notably the inability to actually find people you know. Without knowing someone’s Ello name, good luck trying to find them. The strangest downside of all, however, is Ello’s lack of a corresponding app, a cardinal sin in this mobile day and age.

In the end, the reality for Ello is that while it is able to tout itself as an ad-free safe space, there will come a time when it needs to stand on its own two feet, and in order to do this it will need to make money, and in order to do that, it’ll need some sort of advertising presence. How else will it survive over the long term? While it’s currently hooking people by its reactionary stance, how long before it looks just like what it wanted to replace…that is if it even gets that far?

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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