Facebook has come under increased criticism for ad overload and forcing people (including performers) to use their real names. Now, a new social network called Ello has gained popularity by positioning itself as the anti-Facebook- with no ads and a more open acceptance policy.
The site is invitation-only and recent reports suggest requests to join are increasing to the rate of 20,000 per one hour.
The site is doubling in size every three to four days, fielding tens of thousands of new user requests every hour and currently attracting the sort of hype-fuelled attention that is either short-lived (or exactly what the next Facebook would look like).
Ello looks like a cross between Twitter and Tumblr, using the @handles more commonly associated with former.
Ello was created by California-based designer Paul Bundnitz who came up with the design after feeling ‘fed up with other social networks.’
To sign up, users are instructed to enter their email address, or an existing user has to invite them. The criteria for being accepted is unclear.
The site itself has a black-and-white colour scheme and a clean, scroll-down layout that lets users post status updates, upload pictures and comment on each other’s posts.
With Ello the emphasis is on design as well. Ello will let you do the same things that a Facebook or Twitter does, that is post messages, share links, send messages, but the interface is very minimal.
Those invited into the network are only allowed to invite five to 10 new people and the website’s homepage states they will keep user data and privacy safe.
The website’s homepage says the idea is to not treat the user as a product and to keep user data and privacy safe.
The page reads:
“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.
You are not a product.”
Ello won its early fans in the gay community in the US. According to this Daily Dot report, Facebook’s naming policy (which insists that everyone must use their legal names) has caused anger in the community and many, especially those who identify as transgender, have now decided to get off the Facebook and into Ello.
Watch this Wall Street Journal report looking into the growth of Ello below: