So it seems that every week there is a new social media platform that is labelled the ‘next Facebook’ or the ‘next Twitter’. Usually these platforms come and go without making a ripple on the surface of the big social media ocean, however the latest newbie has generated a few more waves than most. Meet Ello – a new social media platform that describes itself with the tagline ‘Simple, beautiful & ad-free’.
Ello’s creators state that the platform differs from many social media sites by being completely ad-free and not selling user data to third parties. You could be forgiven for initially scoffing and dismissing this statement as an overambitious promise, however they have also made the company a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). A PBC is a relatively new type of corporation structure which is for nonprofit corporations which are intended to be for public benefit, e.g., for social, recreational, educational or charitable purposes. By US law, public benefit corporations are obliged to consider the public impact of their actions. Ello issued the following statement on their website on the 23rd October 2014:
To assure that Ello always remains ad-free, Ello converted to a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC). A Benefit Corporation is a new kind of for-profit company in the USA that exists to produce a benefit for society as a whole — not just to make money for its investors.
The Ello PBC charter states in the strongest legal terms possible that:
1) Ello shall never make money from selling ads;
2) Ello shall never make money from selling user data; and
3) In the event that Ello is ever sold, the new owners will have to comply by these terms.
In other words, Ello exists for your benefit, and will never show ads or sell user data.
So how do they propose to make money? Well, Ello also has an answer for that:
We occasionally offer special features to our users. If we create a special feature that you really like, you may choose to support Ello by paying a very small amount of money to add that feature to your Ello account.
You never have to pay anything, and you can keep using Ello forever, for free. By choosing to buy a feature now and then for a very small amount of money you support our work and help us make Ello better and better.
So, Ello aims to be different and so far their promise is paying off, with a rumoured $5.5m dollars obtained from investors and estimates of around 3-4,000 members joining per hour. Figures on the total number of members do not appear to be readily available, however business company RJMetrics estimated a number of around 160,000 users in recent weeks. Although users are not posting much content at the moment, RJMetrics compared posting rates to that of the current popular social media sites when they first started up and they found that Ello is not doing too badly in comparison.
What do you think? Will Ello make it as the next big thing or is it just another drop in the ocean?
Want to find out what it’s like for yourself? You can request an invitation to join on Ello’s website and then wait to be welcomed into the fold with open arms. In the meantime they ask you to agree to and share their manifesto (optional):
Your social network is owned by advertisers.
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.
We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.
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.
Will you be joining?
How do you feel about paid ads versus paying for features? Would you rather ignore the ads and have access to all features free of charge or is a small fee (amounts yet to be confirmed) worth the ad-free environment and your information not being shared with third parties?*