Ben Winters, Staff Writers
Introduced in 2004, Facebook has taken the world by storm and it certainly has spent a long time at the top of the social network food chain. But with the introduction of its new platforms, invasive ads, limiting and tracking of organic posts and privacy scares, some people are fed up with it. For now however, it’s still a dynamic platform for sharing and maintains an outstanding average of 1.23 billion monthly active users.
Yet, in comes Ello, a brand new social networking platform created by Vermont bike shop owner Paul Budnitz and originally intended for him and 90 friends. Its appeal and branding revolves around a commitment to be ad-free and vow to never sell personal information to anyone. As of now, it is invite only, resembles a mix between Tumblr and Facebook and isn’t very user friendly.
If it plans on being successful long-term, how does it plan on making money? Well, if users won’t have to pay in the form of invasive advertisements or corporate America buying their personal information, they have to pay for something eventually. Ultimately, Ello’s plan is to have users pay for premium features, which have yet to be determined or announced. This may lead to widespread use by those who are willing to pay in order to connect without invasion, but it may be a catch-22 in that you can’t connect with everyone if everyone doesn’t want to pay to fully be on it. Perhaps it will be worth it, but whether it catches on long term may not really be the point.
The bigger picture with Ello is the realization that people have serious problems with Facebook, which was recently criticized by members of the LGBTQ community for blocking the accounts of drag queens using alternative names. In addition, Facebook endured controversy about selling personal information for the purpose of ads, over-controlling how organic posts come up in news feeds and more.
The real question is whether or not Ello has enough of an audience to support its platform. A huge majority of all online success has to do with the free-to-use concept: the home page of Facebook reads, “It’s free and always will be.” All of the other major platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Yik Yak and Snapchat, to name a few, are entirely free. Then, another recent platform making news, Netropolitan, which charges all of their members a high premium of $9,000 and an additional yearly charge of $3,000 and markets itself and operates as an online country club, snatches the complete other end of the spectrum.
But whether or not Ello catches on, it’s certainly procured enough curiosity to be all over the internet. As of now, the invite-only service is getting more than 31,000 requests an hour and people are so eager to try it that exclusive invites are being sold on E-Bay for up to $500. The ultimate irony in its rise to fame however, is that the only way it spreads so fast is through the use of Facebook, the very social network Ello may destroy with its success.