Tired of Facebook? Overwhelmed with Twitter? Still not convinced about Google Plus? Say hello to the latest social network, Ello.
I received an invitation to join Ello a few days ago. Right now, it is still invite only. However, each user receives five invitations to send to friends. When I have more, I'll be sharing them with NBN Club members. I know you're wondering what Ello is and how it's different, let me explain.
Ello calls itself a simple, beautiful, ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers. According to an article on Betabeat, Ello requests for invites has jumped from 4,000 per hour to 31,000. It seems everyone wants to get in and look around.
I have been inundated with email notifications of friends joining and leaving me messages since I created my profile. These are sent via email, because the hot, new social network has no mobile apps - yet. This seems like a major oversight given over seventy-three percent of Facebook's daily users use it via mobile. Seventy-five percent of Twitter users do the same. It's strange that Ello would launch without an app. Yes, it's still in beta, but Gmail was in beta for years. Beta is no excuse.
On other social networks you are the product that’s bought and sold
New users are flocking to the social network to see what the buzz is about. The lure of being an ad-free social network is especially appealing to those sick of Facebook's tireless monetization methods. Ello's own manifesto includes the reminder that on other social networks you are the product that’s bought and sold. Yes, they even have a manifesto.
I like how clean the interface is. One person mentioned it reminded her a little of Craigslist. It was also noted how much it resembles early Twitter and Tumblr. Its user interface is simple and mysteriously black and white. The only color can be found in the photos and animated GIFs users share, along with their profile and header images. Even the logo is a plain black circle with a smile. It is missing its eyes, perhaps to indicate that we are free to do as we wish, Ello is not watching.
Some users complain that they can't find their friends. This is a good point. There is no friend-finding feature like you are accustomed to on other social networks and apps. You can't connect it to Twitter, or Facebook, or your email contacts to find friends to connect with. I have found the greatest way to connect is to share my Ello URL across other social networks and hope friends click.
Founder, Paul Budnitz, calls Ello the "anti-Facebook". Anti, because you can be anonymous, which was a big draw for many people in the LGBT community early on. It's also appealing to drag performers and other artists who wish to be known by their stage names. Facebook only allows users to use their real names. Gone are the days of anonymity across the Internet. Ello is here to bring it back if users wish.
Ello reminds me of Twitter back in 2007 and 2008, when alternatives like Jaiku, Pownce, and Plurk existed. The thing that made Twitter really take off was its open API. Developers raced to create gorgeous applications that made Twitter even better. I use the analogy of a pile of clay. Anyone could sit and mold it into different shapes, but it was the developers who created beautiful works of art. As years went on, Twitter changed its policies and access to its API, which was frowned upon by the very community who helped make it what it is today.
Ello has already received some controversy of its own as it was shrouded with suspicion when Andy Baio, an early user, noted its $435,000 funding from a venture capitalist firm. VCs invest money into tech start-ups, so they can cash out later. If Ello isn't selling our information or showering us with advertisements, how will they make money? Some users have asked why Ello wasn't created using Patreon or Kickstarter instead.
Ello does say that they have premium, paid, features, which will begin to roll out in the future. The hope is they will be able to continue funding the site by selling these features to users. This isn't too far fetched, I have read many times that peers using Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus would gladly pay a user fee if it meant they were no longer faced with advertisements and privacy concerns.
Are you ready for a new social network? Are you already using Ello? Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. You can find me at ello.co/davedelaney.
Please leave a comment here with your Ello URL, so I can be sure to friend you.