“You are not a product”. That´s the striking statement social network Ello have stormed into the privacy debate with. The new platform is the result of an admirable stance against social networks who build their business around tracking members´ personal data and selling it to advertisers. Is this something the majority of users are concerned about, however?

Well, the number of people who are trying to get a code to the currently invite-only network – Ello are experiencing 31,000 requests an hour according to BetaBeat – suggests there is space in the market for an advertising-free alternative.

But is interest simply a result of it being the new kid on the block? Technology publication Wired certainly think so. In an article I came across on their website, they rule out the possibility of it ever sitting alongside the likes of Facebook and Twitter in the market.

It says that the outlined business model of keeping advertisers at arm´s length has no sustainability – highlighting the need for continued investment in users´ needs. It argues that the regular inflow of cash needed to keep users content won´t be available to its founders, who are likely to depend on venture capital.

However, Ello says it´s going to monetise by selling features, which could result in a networking site where you can pay to personalise, while still engaging some sort of coherent social space. That sounds quite appealing, right?

Ello´s feed is separated into two categories, “Friends” and “Noise”, which would appeal to those users who criticise Facebook´s congested timeline. Most of the articles I´ve read claim that this in itself won´t be enough to see Ello take flight, but what do you think? “We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency,” states Ello´s manifesto. Do you believe it has what it takes to succeed?

Ben Hollom

September 26, 2014