Say ‘Hello’ to Ello
Ello is a trendy new social media network currently doubling in size approximately every 3 to 4 days. The network has been around for a few months, but a recent influx of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community sign-ups resulted in awareness of Ello rising significantly.
The mass-switch of LGBT community members from Facebook to Ello was brought on by Facebook’s insistence on users giving their real names (something Ello does not insist on), which, considering the sad reality that giving real names could provoke homophobic/ sexist persecution, understandably annoyed and worried the community.
Apparently created purely as a private network to begin with, Ello generated enough interest for its creators to build a public Ello version. Unlike other social media networks, Ello can not be joined by just anyone. To join this network, users have to either know and get invited by someone who is already a member, or request an invitation by visiting the site’s home page. Fuelled by hype, the site is currently dealing with approximately 30,000+ new user requests per the hour.
Adverted as an ‘ad-free, beautiful and simple’ network, Ello has a very well defined no-ad policy, which also promises users that none of their data will be tracked, sold or otherwise used. Users also have the option not to provide personal details. The service is advertised as free, with ‘the occasional special feature being offered to users at a small price to support Ello’.
News that the company received ‘seed funding’ of around $435,000 from venture capital company Fresh Tracks Capital in January 2014 sparked some controversy, as many believed Ello had ‘duped’ users and would eventually have to start pushing towards profitability and compromise of its current values. These fears were rebuked by the network’s founder, Paul Budnitz, who said receiving this money was never kept secret and the network would continue to be funded by the ‘availability of special features at cost’.
This network is still very much a Beta version. In some ways similar to Twitter, users can follow others and designate updates appearing in their stream as ‘noise’ or ‘friends’, but other key features, such as, for example, flagging private accounts or adult orientated content are still in development.