In the last issue I covered some of the backlashes against Facebook and the reasons why some users are quitting: privacy concerns, security and selling of their information, as well as simply a lack of time to deal with all the “input” of social media.
But what if you want to quit Facebook but still like the idea of social networks? Maybe you want to use social networking privately with family? And is there a social network that doesn’t mine your personal information or dump ads on you?
There are a few alternatives to Facebook around the web. In 2010, an alternative to Facebook called Diaspora tried to get a start. It was going to be a social network that guaranteed privacy and security.
Diaspora is what’s called a “distributed” network; users and their data were not in one central location, and as a result couldn’t be gathered and used. And the code was “open source,” so many developers could read it and be sure of the security. Diaspora went through several transformations, and while it still exists, it’s not easy to use.
But now there’s Ello, a social network that got off the ground last year. It’s still in “invitation” mode, but last fall, it’s said that 30,000 people per hour were signing up. The site is simple and mostly black and white (except for user images and posts), not as cluttered with ads and sharing options like Facebook. Design-wise, Ello seeks to attract the under 30 crowd.
On the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page, Ello’s founders say that the service “was founded by a small group of artists and programmers who had be- come disillusioned by all the big social networks, which had become ugly, cluttered, and full of advertisements. They just weren’t any fun any more. So we decided to build our own.” (Read more at https://ello.co/wtf/post/faq)
Ello says “No ads, ever.” And, to remain ad-free, Ello converted to a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), which is new class of for-profit company that was created to show a benefit for society and not simply to make money for investors.
Some tech news websites say that Ello already is a “has been” because it takes a critical mass to gain users, have them post, make friends and, more importantly, stick around. And they don’t see the necessary numbers for Ello, even with its growth.
Will Ello make it? It’s growing fast. But can it keep growing and keep the lights on? Is Ello a Facebook killer? I don’t think it wants to be. But Ello took venture capital funding, so now it needs to make money, right? Ello’s creators say they can make money with premium features and still not sell ads and your personal information; I guess that will remain to be seen.
You can check out Ello yourself and ask for an invitation at Welcome to Ello. I searched, and there are a few Montanans on board.