It has been mentioned here many times before. Something comes along with a special feature to be the “next social network”, and the result comes out as it gains a bit of traction, a few articles are written about the entire buzz” it’s causing, and then it vanishes back into the black hole of insignificance. And the case ends up being closed. But something different is a stir with Ello. The social network with the no-ad promise is picking up more hype than those before it. Kick started by a mass immigration of the LGBTQ community peed off by Facebook’s correct name policy, the initial groundswell has been spurred on in the last 48 hours by scores of people tweeting and Facebooking about it – and the fact you need an invite if you want access Exclusivity helps build hype. Once you’re in, Ello looks pretty familiar. It actually reminds me a lot of Chinese social network Weibo, which I became a big fan of during my time living in the country, and which similarly pulls together the timeline of Twitter with the more personal features of Facebook. It’s a freemium social network, and the timing is perfect.
It’s a clean look, but more importantly Ello promises no ads and no data mining. Its creators promise paid-for features in the near future, which users will have the option of adding to their profiles at a small cost. It sounds like it’s going to be a freemium social network. The history here states that it’ll go the way of so many of its predecessors. But history has another lesson to teach us about: MySpace.
But similar to Ello, Facebook was not categorized as very much different from what it has been known when it came along. It was new, it was interesting, but it wasn’t exactly different. Moving away from the personalized profiles that MySpace afforded to Facebook’s monotonous blue pages probably wouldn’t have been predicted by most, but there you go. And the niggling resentments we had towards MySpace are starting to creep in again, now aimed at Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter. Like MySpace, Facebook is not the same beast it once was: It spam’s daily feeds with adverts more than ever; it sells on the personal data to more third parties than ever.
All these companies need to find ways to survive, so I’m certainly not suggesting we deserve any of this stuff for free. But Facebook’s current model of aggressive expansion could end up costing it its appeal. Recent history predicts the latter. But a lot of people are interested in Ello right now and that says a lot. Feelings towards Facebook and Twitter have shifted in the past few years and there may soon be an opportunity for someone else to swoop in and divert our attention – there’s no reason Ello isn’t that someone. Facebook and Twitter may not have to worry about any mass migration just yet, but if they continue to increasingly push adverts, sell data and spam our feeds, their days of relevance are surely numbered.