This week, I’ve been seeing more and more articles, Twitter remarks, etc. about a new social network called “Ello.”
While I haven’t signed up (yet), Ello’s main appeal seems to be advertising itself as “Not Facebook.” While “Not Facebook” was the same initial appeal of the last major social network to come along, Google+, it’s ended up not gaining widespread attraction (and some amount of derision, unfortunately), thanks in part to its chicken-and-egg problem. Namely, people think Google+ is a “ghost town” since their friends aren’t on it, and thus refuse to use Google+, resulting in a “ghost town” impression. Yes, there’s community forums, etc., but those don’t seem to be as big a draw as one’s friends using a service.
From a glance at its site, Ello looks like some mix of Tumblr and Twitter/Facebook, but with fewer of the latter’s features, such as privacy controls, etc. Ello’s developers say those are coming in the future, however. They also promise that Ello will treat users with more respect than Facebook/Twitter, including “no ads.” This, of course, raises questions about its business model, as well as how Ello will be sustainable should it gain major traction in the future. Ello’s founders note they plan to offer the option of “special features” for a one-time fee.
Part of the attention toward Ello is coming as a reaction to Facebook and Twitter’s actions of late. Facebook made news recently for suspending the accounts of drag queens, citing its policy requiring the use of real names on accounts… and ignoring the various offline reasons such individuals might have for not doing so. While Google+ now allows nicknames, this still hasn’t gotten it as much attention as it should’ve; I suppose there’s also some who’re wary over Google’s business practices. Meanwhile, Twitter recently made remarks that they’re considering changing users’ feeds from the current default of everything visible to a Facebook-like curated feed. Never mind this would hurt its usefulness for things like the Ferguson, Missouri protests, Arab Spring, etc. Also, Twitter users already have lists, so they can “curate” stuff on their own.
I don’t know what Ello’s future will be, or if/when there’ll be anything that can finally pry users at large away from Facebook. Facebook users have by and large passively put up with everything Zuckerberg’s company has done with its site, up to and including Facebook playing mind games with its users. Definitely a far cry from the Friendster/MySpace eras, when people switched social networks for lesser reasons. Thus, I’m not optimistic about a massive change anytime soon.