'Anti-Facebook' social network gets viral surge

September 28, 2014 by Rob Lever

In a matter of days, the new social network Ello, described as the "anti-Facebook" for its stand on privacy and advertising, has become perhaps the hottest ticket on the Internet.

Created last year as a "private" social network, Ello (www.ello.co) recently opened its doors on an invitation-only basis.

Because of the limited supply and strong demand, the invitations have been selling on eBay at prices up to $500. Some reports said Ello is getting up to 35,000 requests per hour as a result of a viral surge in the past week.

Ello appears to have caught on with its simple message which seems to take aim at frustrations of Facebook users.

"Ello doesn't sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties," the company says.

Its "manifesto" states: "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."

Ello's policy states that the practice of collecting and selling personal data 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."

Based in Vermont, Ello was launched by a group of artists and programmers led by Paul Budnitz, whose previous experience include designing bicycles and robots.

Budnitz says on his page that Ello was designed to be "simple, beautiful and ad-free."

'Different politics'

Nathan Jurgenson, a researcher at the University of Maryland, welcomed Ello's fresh approach.

"I love these moments of new social media when conversation explodes, moved to imagine how social media can be different, questioning core assumptions instead of just fretting and complaining—all before this paint even dries," he said on his Ello page.

"Ello is getting so much attention precisely because it promises social media of a different politics. We've collectively come to the realization that the rise of social media has been accompanied by handing far too much power to far too few people, and there's energy to shake things up, even if just a bit."

Ello's rise also comes amid complaints against Facebook from the gay community that the world's biggest social network began disabling accounts using stage names instead of real names.

A San Francisco protest is planned against Facebook supporting "drag queens" who lost their Facebook accounts. Ello does not require real names.

Business plan?

It remains unclear if Ello will end up being a flash in the pan, or if it will develop a profitable business plan.

Ello states it plans to remain "completely free to use," but that it could start offering some premium features for a fee.

Some question if Ello can succeed on this kind of model and keep its principles.

But former Ello collaborator Aral Balkan said Ello has already been compromised by taking $435,000 in venture capital funding.

A designer and founder of ind.ie, a privacy advocacy group, Balkan said he worked briefly for Ello but left when he learned of the venture investments.

"When you take venture capital, it is not a matter of if you're going to sell your users, you already have," says a blog post from Balkan.

"It's called an exit plan. And no investor will give you venture capital without one. In the myopic and upside-down world of , exits precede the building of the actual thing itself. It would be a comedy if the repercussions of this toxic system were not so tragic."

Explore further: Calorie density key to losing weight

Related Stories

Calorie density key to losing weight

June 8, 2007

Eating smart, not eating less, may be the key to losing weight. A year-long clinical trial by Penn State researchers shows that diets focusing on foods that are low in calorie density can promote healthy weight loss while ...

Facebook rolls out 'privacy checkup'

September 5, 2014

Facebook on Thursday began rolling out its "privacy checkup" aimed at helping users of the huge social network better manage sharing their information and postings.

Social media's Hootsuite joins $1bn club

September 25, 2014

Hootsuite, a Canada-based social media consulting and analytics firm, said Thursday it raised a fresh $60 million in investments, giving it a reported value of $1 billion.

Facebook dressed down over 'real names' policy

September 17, 2014

Facebook says it temporarily restored hundreds of deleted profiles of self-described drag queens and others, but declined to change a policy requiring account holders to use their real names rather than drag names such as ...

Recommended for you

Team breaks world record for fast, accurate AI training

November 7, 2018

Researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) have partnered with a team from Tencent Machine Learning to create a new technique for training artificial intelligence (AI) machines faster than ever before while maintaining ...

14 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

h20dr
not rated yet Sep 28, 2014
Well, I was all ready to abandon the evil FB until I got to the end of the article. Alas, its still all about the money. Just like MakerBot going from open source to closed. They get you hooked and then reel you in$.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (8) Sep 28, 2014
This is science?

It's in the "technology -> internet" section of physorg. Physorg has more sections than just science.

Sounds like it is homosexual gathering place.

What's wrong with a gathering place for people (homosexual or not)? What's your problem verkle? Unsure of your sexuality? Feel threatened? Not ready to come out of the closet, yet?
What's this obsession of religious people with things that are none of thrir business. Maybe you can explain that one.
NOM
3.9 / 5 (7) Sep 28, 2014
This is science?
Yet when physorg posts science, you troll with your creationist crap.
FMM
4.5 / 5 (2) Sep 28, 2014
The end sounded to me like a disgruntled former employee. They have to have money to do what the plan.
gkam
3 / 5 (6) Sep 28, 2014
"-they are wanting to use fake names so people don't find them out!"

Something like the Bush Voters calling themselves Tea Folk?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2014
It sounds like most homosexuals are not

Can you guess why? I'll give you a hint: They get stigmatized by people like you.
But the ones I know (e.g. my neighbors) seem to be pretty at ease. Probably because germany isn't such a religious nut-job hellhole.

Just FYI: we all use fake names here - even you. Why aren't you posting under your real name?

Using fake names is not just a sign that you want to hide something. It's sometimes fun to act out a role that you aren't in real life (that's why people play video games, play role playing games, or do any of those things where they feel other than in regular life (like go to sports or music events where you're not your name but just a 'fan')).

And there ARE people out there that like to collect information on you to use against you.
Not making any available that isn't strictly necessary is just common sense.

Captain Stumpy
4 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2014
I am confident and peaceful about my orientation
@verkle
no, you are not. Otherwise you would leave everyone else alone... as you so vehemently try to fight against homosexuality, you, like other xtians, are simply fighting against your own demons and the fact that you perceive it to be against your moral code... and you cannot comprehend why they exist within you, or you see it as a challenge from your sky-fairy
you persecute them because you have the same internal feelings and hate yourself... why not just persecute yourself and leave THEM alone?
It sounds like most homosexuals are not---they are wanting to use fake names so people don't find them out!
because violent idiots like yourself living under the delusion and control of a false belief persecute them.

your RELIGION is why ANY people might hide their identity (on line or in real life)... PERSECUTION and JUDGEMENT without cause.
Pattern_chaser
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 29, 2014
Captain Stumpy, I quite agree, but *please* don't blame Christians or religion for verkle. He's an extremist, and the problem is extremism, not religion. The vast majority of religious people are decent individuals that you might even consider letting your daughter marry.
Captain Stumpy
4.2 / 5 (5) Sep 29, 2014
Captain Stumpy, I quite agree, but *please* don't blame Christians or religion for verkle. He's an extremist, and the problem is extremism, not religion. The vast majority of religious people are decent individuals that you might even consider letting your daughter marry.
@Pattern_chaser
apologies if you felt slighted. it IS the extremist... but also the stupid, or those who refuse to think...
not targeting ALL xtians (as you point out, not all are stupid or bad :-) ), but I AM targeting religion in general and verkle and his eccentric extreme "brand" of religion and xtianity specifically

also understand that, IMHO, there is a HUGE difference between RELIGION and FAITH
your faith is one thing, but once it is codified into a religious tenet, then it becomes something entirely different.
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (4) Sep 29, 2014
@ Captain-Skippy. You are right about that Cher. I come from a peoples who are guilty of and victims of closed minded foolishment. You would think a peoples like the Cajuns would know better than to be hateful to peoples who are different considering how they always been treated but non, they can be just as foolish as anybody else sometimes.

And no matter what the cause the of closed minded foolishment they always get around to making religion a reason for it. They seems to do that because religion is proof all by it self and with that you don't have to come up with a better reason for that. I would have been as foolish as that me if I did not have the Mrs-Ira-Skippette to help me get my mind straight on some of those things a long long time ago.

I don't want no god that tells me how I have to hate what other people do even if they aren't bothering me none. The fact that everybody argues about what god wants ought to tell you something about how all powerful god is.
danir
not rated yet Sep 29, 2014
Here's the blog post by Aral Balkan about his experience with Ello. He said he was consulting pro bono until he found out about the venture capital.
https://aralbalka...goodbye/
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Sep 29, 2014
I quite agree, but *please* don't blame Christians or religion for verkle.

Good call. Being confronted here with solely the most radical (and radically stupid) elements of the religious it sometimes is hard to remember that there are plenty of normal people who just have their private belief, but don't push it onto other people.

Shout out to the DA forums, BTW ;-)
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Sep 29, 2014
I don't want no god that tells me how I have to hate what other people do even if they aren't bothering me none. The fact that everybody argues about what god wants ought to tell you something about how all powerful god is
!Uncle Ira
Absolutely
one of the BIGGEST problems that I have with certain religions is this... the fact that they TEACH HATE... they TEACH SEGREGATION by their tenets (like you said... they all argue about what their god wants)
Being confronted here with solely the most radical (and radically stupid) elements of the religious it sometimes is hard to remember that there are plenty of normal people who just have their private belief, but don't push it onto other people
@AA_P
yeah... I have forgotten that on occasion
we all make mistakes.
FainAvis
5 / 5 (1) Sep 29, 2014
Verkle your protests are the pan calling the kettle black.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.