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Why Ello is just an overhyped anti-Facebook, social wannabe

Matt Kapko | Oct. 8, 2014
Ello, a new social network that's trying to make a name for itself as the latest alternative to Facebook, sure isn't much to look at. In fact, there really isn't much to do or see on Ello at all.

As the noise surrounding Ello intensified, I eventually made my request for an invite at on Sept. 26. But impatience got the best of me later that day when Ello's founder Paul Bunditz claimed that the company was receiving 45,000 requests to join per hour and had "more than a million requests in the queue."

Fortunately thanks to some tips shared on Twitter and elsewhere I was able to guess an invite code and make my way into Ello without anxiously waiting for my number to be called. The shiny lustre and excitement of joining a new site wore off almost immediately after I set up my profile.

An Invite-Only Ghost Town

There just isn't much to it right now. The site is clean, overwhelmingly simple and filled with beautiful, wide open white space where ads most typically appear on other social networks. It's refreshing at first, but that sense of wonder quickly gives way to a general bewilderment about the limits of Ello that seemingly appear with every click. In fact, you'll probably run out of things to click on pretty quickly.

Ello follows the norm with a "discover" tab where some of its users are promoted similar to how other social networks will highlight their more prolific and popular users. Unfortunately, the only other way to find users is to manually search for someone or scroll through another user's following and followers lists.

You can follow and categorize as either "friends" or "noise" depending on where and in which feed you'd like their posts to appear. Twitter-like @mentions enable users to have conversations with other users on Ello, but there's no organization or grouping of those conversations leaving the context and flow completely broken.

GigaOm founder Om Malik hit the nail on the head in a tweet he posted the same day I joined Ello:

Facebook Flip-Flops on Controversial Names Policy

For some, the nagging and well-founded privacy concerns encircling Facebook continue to foment disdain and a longing for social networks that reflect their values and beliefs regarding data collection, privacy and advertising. Facebook's "real-names" policy created a backlash that grew into a protest movement over the past couple weeks, making Ello an obvious landing pad for some of those seeking the latest "anti-Facebook" wannabe.

Facebook eventually relented on the controversial policy last week when its chief product officer Chris Cox issued an apology to the "affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we've put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks."

Cox writes that Facebook's policy has never been to require everyone to use their legal name, but rather the "authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess."


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