Virtually an anti-Facebook alternative, Ello has seen an increase in its user base as of late amid the bitter conflict between Facebook and drag queens, some artists and the LGBT community over the social networking site’s real name policy.
Ello was launched in July, and now it is attracting approximately 4,000 new users every hour, according to its founder, Paul Budnitz, though the figure has yet to be supported by facts. However, it is a popular belief that quite a great deal of those new converts are drag artists whom Facebook has kicked out for using, not their real names, but their performance names and other identification of the nuances of their orientation and profession.
The intention behind Facebook’s real name requirement is as simple as it claims it to be: to help prevent harmful behavior while fostering a safe and transparent ecosystem, which means cyberbullying to the LGBT community in particular.
In its website, Ello states:
Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.
Ello clearly has more lofty ideals for users, but there are bitter realities to face. One, the budding social media has to install privacy controls and a blocking feature into its website in order to address the privacy needs of users. Some new users of Ello are complaining over the absence of mechanisms to restrict the visibility of their profile and block users they deem threats to their online identity.
Ello assured users through email that it is currently working on privacy controls and a block button, as well as other features to enable users to report abuses.
Moreover, the site promises users that they would never see ads on it. There’s the rub. Every online service involves costs associated with maintenance and development. In order for a social network to stay on track, it needs money. There are only two options then: ask users to pay a premium for membership or attract advertisers. The first option has not been proven to be effective among social networks as there are no such online services that collect payments from users. The second option, on the other hand, could make Ello less and less different from Facebook in the long run.
These are the things Ello needs to address in order to ensure its survival and live up to what it promises users.