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What the hell is Ello? What social media is saying about the ad-free 'anti-Facebook'


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

September 26, 2014 | 5 min read

Mysterious social network Ello was this week hailed as the next big thing by the media after it was lauded as a potential service for those disillusioned by Facebook's alleged lack of ethics.

Ello allows non-members to take a peak at its most prominent profiles

The site received significant media coverage after welcoming an exodus of LGBT Facebook accounts as the result of a spat requiring users to use their legally registered names on profiles - a policy which inconvenienced transgendered people and drag performers.

The self-described “simple, beautiful and ad-free” social network has been dubbed the 'anti-Facebook' due to its minimalist interface and ‘ethical’ attitudes towards consumer data. However, its memberships are invite only, an issue that has had people clamouring to join.

Ello distinguished itself from other social networks by being completely ad free, instead being funded by voluntary feature sales granting additional perks for users.

On its ad-less structure, the Ello site policy reads: “Ello doesn't sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties. Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make.

“Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You're the product that's being bought and sold. Collecting and selling your personal data, reading your posts to your friends, and mapping your social connections for profit is both creepy and unethical.

“Under the guise of offering a 'free' service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy. We also think ads are tacky, that they insult our intelligence and that we're better without them.”

Social media users took to Twitter to discuss Ello - which has gained an unprecedented amount of media coverage considering it is essentially still in the early stages of beta testing.

Other users questioned how the site, which first launched in March, could maintain any level of profitability without using consumer data to target ads.

Ello has not yet released a mobile app and is crashing due to the demand of those trying to join - a far shot ​from the Facebook-killer it has been lauded as.

However, demand is high, with invites to the social network being sold on eBay for as much as $100.

A report launched earlier this year by EY found that 90 per cent of UK adults are uncomfortable with sharing personal information with social networks.


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