Should Ello Have Facebook Worried?

The new social network claims that 'You are not a product.'

If your Facebook friends are anything like my Facebook friends -- a.k.a. a ton of artists who hate corporations and wish they could go live in cabins somewhere -- you've probably seen them buzzing about Ello this week. There's a new social network on the block -- and it was designed for people who are fed up with Facebook.

So what exactly is Ello? That's the question on everyone's lips this week. After scoring an invite to the site, I learned that it's a social network with a manifesto -- one that's staunchly anti-ad. According to the founders, the issue with other social networks is that every piece of data that you put out there is basically fodder for advertisers. "Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold," the manifesto reads.

Ello, the founders opine, is about "beauty, simplicity, and transparency." Their basic MO for the site -- which is free to use, doesn't contain ads, and doesn't censor racy images (free the nipple!) -- is: "You are not a product."

According to BetaBeat, the network -- designed by toymaker/bike-builder/etc Paul Budnitz -- blew up after recent reports that Facebook would begin deleting users who don't use their real names, a serious issue for those in LBGTQ community who go by alternate monikers. Ello was seeing 4,000 sign-ups per hour when they spoke to BetaBeat Wednesday. It initially launched back in July.


So what is Ello like? It's a much cleaner experience than Facebook, to be sure, with tons of white space and minimalist profiles. In terms of "friending," you can sort your connections into "Friends" and "Noise," which determines how big content from those people appears. Friends, obviously, have more import, which means their posts are bigger. Imagine muting all those baby snaps for good. Now you can.

Currently, I'm finding a lot of bugs when using Ello, though -- the biggest being that I can't search to add friends (which kind of seems to be the point). This is apparently a widespread issue, as other users are complaining of the same problem. This issue has definitely made it difficult to get the true Ello experience as, you know, without friends you're just shouting into the abyss.

Right now, Ello isn't open to everyone -- you have to sign up for access -- but I have a few invites kicking around if anyone wants to join me in sussing out if this new social network should have Facebook worried. Hit me up on Twitter if you want your very own Ello account: @BrennaEhrlich

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