We’ve talked about how Facebook’s “Real Name” policy tends to affect LGBT users more often than others by forcing users who may not identify with the names given to them at birth use them anyway. Well, some members of the LGBT community seem to feel that this is a sign that it’s time to make a change. A new invite-only social media platform called Ello seems to be drawing a number of current and former Facebook users, especially those affected by the “Real Name” policy.
Ello is still in its infancy and it is unclear how successful it will be in the long run as there are still a lot of bugs to be fixed, but so far, many have embraced the new platform, particularly a large group of LGBT users.
The website itself is crisp, clean, and complete with a “manifesto” which reads like something out of a very hipster, social media-centric version of Fight Club. The manifesto begins:
“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.”
The message is subtly anti-Capitalism and anti-conformity. The website makes a very big deal out of the fact that they don’t display ads and have no plans to. The creators of Ello hope to support their website by launching optional paid features which they are confident will be lucrative enough to keep them afloat.
Many, myself included, are skeptical about the possibility of such a large website running for very long without any ads whatsoever, but hopefully the venture is successful and perhaps paves the way for a generally more user-conscious future to the internet rather than an ad-centered one. It seems like a beautiful dream.
In addition to avoiding ads, though, Ello does not require users to give accurate identity information. This is what has drawn so many users in the wake of Facebook’s troublesome policy, but does leave some safety concerns. Right now, while the site is invitation-only, it may not be so worrisome, but as the site gains in popularity, the lack of identifying marks on any given profile potentially enables internet predators and could make it easier for users to falsify identities. Surely there can be a balance; some all-inclusive social media platform like Facebook with less rigid policies, but enough in place to encourage safe internet use. Hopefully Facebook, Ello, or someone new will come up with a way to be fair and cautious at the same time.