What is the one thing you hate most about Facebook?
Oversharing? The constant stream of baby photos? Lovey dovey declarations of affection between significant others?
Ello can’t promise to fix all that, but Ello can fix this: advertising, and perhaps more importantly, privacy. As their manifesto says: “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.” It even directs you to Facebook’s privacy page if you were to say you disagree.
There is no like button to track your statistics, no ads to sell you things Facebook thinks you need, and no suggested friends list from seeing how many mutual friends you have. Just you, your face (which you can also Ello-fy to stay truly anonymous by sticking their logo on your face), and your posts: currently only limited to texts and photos.
Made to look as minimalistic as possible so your content stands out, it’s been said that Ello is somewhat of a cross between Tumblr and Twitter. Ello may not look like much with their bare-bones approach on design thus far, but their appeal is that they’re not focused on not data-mining their users, thus keeping their privacy intact.
However, it should be noted that “Ello is a platform built for posting and sharing public content. You should assume that anything you post on Ello other than private messages will be accessed by others.”
There is an option, according to CNET.com, for users to “disable the Public Profile option, which prevents people who are not members of Ello from seeing your profile”, but users should also “note that anyone within the network can still see your profile and posts.”
So Ello may not be the best at privacy settings at the moment, since anyone and everyone who access Ello can access your page. One of the founders, designer Todd Berger, told The Guardian, “Privacy comes at a cost, and some of our enhanced privacy features will come with fees.” What’s different about Ello is that it allows the user to opt out of their already anonymised Google Analytics tracking, which apparently does not allow Ello or Google to trace the data back to its user.
One of the more interesting features of Ello is that it allows you to filter your acquaintances into “Friends” and “Noise”, which makes it easier to streamline what is essentially noise from what and whom you really want to hear from. Maybe the lovey dovey declarations we mentioned earlier can be avoided after all.
What’s The Fuss About Privacy?
Well, one might recall the recent outrage about Facebook conducting studies on how posts affects someone’s mood, or perhaps even how the Messenger App invades your privacy. The issue here is privacy, which more and more users are starting to question. There was even a documentary made on privacy in 2013 called “Terms and Conditions May Apply”, where an inside look into how easy it is to find out who you are on the internet just by scouring through your data was presented.
The question that remains is: will Ello take over Facebook like Facebook once did MySpace and Friendster?
Before Ello, there were a number of other social networks that tried to take over the big names like App.net, Disapora, or even Path. Out of the three, I’ve really only heard of Path and have it downloaded on my iPhone. But I haven’t used Path in ages, so only time will tell if Ello, once it’s out of the early development stage, will be able to keep its users and sustain its goal of being transparent and ad-free.
Ello is still in beta at the moment. Take note that at the time of publishing, access to Ello is by invitation only. You can get that invite by waiting for it to appear in your email – which shouldn’t take long considering Ello is going viral – or by requesting for one.