Ello, the anti-Facebook

Over the past year, or so, there has been a lot of buzz, then lull, the buzz again about the social network, Ello.  If you know much about it, you are familiar with their manifesto:

ello manifesto

This is the crux of social media right now, in order to participate on most platforms — there seems to be an extra bit of animosity towards Facebook for this — you are giving up your privacy rights and at the mercy of data collection.  Not so with Ello.  They have even bound themselves legally to never make money from selling either ads or user data.

The real question for Ello, though, isn’t necessarily their reasoning, although there are some who question why they’ve taking funding from corporate donors.  The real question is whether users will go there and stay there and be social there.  After all, without an audience, a social network is doomed to fail.  Let’s all take a moment of silence for Google+.

Just a few weeks ago Ello’s founder, Paul Budnitz, didn’t show up to SXSW.  You’d think there would’ve been more of a concern about this, but according to International Business Times, some folks responded with praise for Ello’s concept of ad-free, data mining-free social space saying things like, “I think there’s a slow realization that if you don’t pay for the product then you are the product — understandably, because people have to monetize.” And, “I hate Zuckerberg and all his minions. I use Ello.” 

So, while it’s clear that Ello definitely has an audience, what are they going to do with it?  Well, just a few days ago, they secured another $5 Million in additional funding.  Which means that they most certainly do not intend to go gently into that good night.

If Ello were to catch on on a wider scale, their sort of mentality could change the face of social media, and indeed the internet altogether.  Think about it: what would we do, as digital marketers, if a majority of users suddenly became self-aware of all the data that is being collected about them, and they weren’t happy about it?  Now, I don’t see this happening any time soon, but Ello does stand poised to take away some of Facebook’s audience.  Will they?  Only time will tell.

A year from now we’ll either all be on Ello, or starting conversations with, “Remember Ello?”

What do you think?  Will Ello rise up and be a big player in social media, or remain a niche network?  Please share your experiences with Ello in the comments.

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