In recent weeks, the internet has been speculating, discussing and jibing the new kid on the block – social media network Ello. Already coined as the “Anti-Facebook” network, Ello promises to never impose advertising on its users.
"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... You are the product that's bought and sold."Ello
Instead of making money from advertising space and data, Ello will charge users for premium features (which are as yet undisclosed). Yet, some argue the website’s customisation options are practically nil and this lack of flexibility means users are prompted to pay for additional features.
On Ello, there’s no “like” or “favourite” or “+1″ function, like on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. Reponses must actually be articulated – which could bring a much welcome stop to slovenly social media laziness and will force people to stop competing for likes.
The site has a simple, monochrome design and allows you to choose which posts you care about through anonymous categorisation of updates as “friends” or “noise.” A dig in the ribs to Facebook, which recently banned pseudonyms, Ello also lets you use whatever name you want.
Importantly, it only collects anonymous info about your location, language, referring website and time spent on the site. Users can even disable Ello’s analytics software and become totally invisible.
Despite Ello being positioned as the antithesis of Facebook, founder Paul Budnitz insists “"We don't consider Facebook to be a competitor. We see it as an ad platform and we are a network.”
However, the traditional model of a free-to-use network has historically been the key to success, said James McQuivey, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester.
"Ello is walking into a habit which consumers already have about digital services that they can't change on their own."
McQuivey also suggested that people's attitudes towards advertising and data mining might not be as negative as they seem. With brands on Ello, it can also be argued that branded content is technically advertising.
"We may all think we don't like advertising, we may believe we think it's wrong for companies to profit from our personal data but our behaviour suggests these companies give us what we want and we don't mind what they do in return," he said."
Ello is currently in beta form and requires an invitation to join, with up to 38,000 requests being made by the hour. It’s early days for the network and the internet is already a landfill for failed and struggling attempts to create rival alternatives to the social media giants. Whether Ello will buck the odds remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: it won’t have any ad revenue as bail.