Ello offers social-network users simplicity, privacy

By Taylor Lucero

In contrast to other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Ello is a newly-established social network which brands itself as “simple, beautiful, and (an) ad-free social network.”

After initially starting as a private social network, Ello created a public version of the site after an increase in its popularity, according to its website. 

Ello co-founder and CEO Paul Budnitz said the focus of Ello is to provide a more private social networking site.

“When you eliminate ads from the picture, you also get rid of boosted posts, data mining, ad salesmen and all kinds of other practices that are invasive on a social network,” he wrote in an email. “Ello is very simple to use, and because there’s no advertising, everything we do is to make Ello better.”

Ello is pronounced like “hello,” but without the “H,” and is still in its beta version, meaning it is still in development stages. As of now, people can only get an account on Ello by requesting one through its website or by receiving an invitation to join from a current user.

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Adam Dornford, senior in Engineering, said he recently began using Ello after finding a person on Facebook who was giving out invitations.

Dornford said he does not particularly like Facebook and wanted to find an alternative to the social networking website. He eventually began exploring Ello.

Because Dornford only has a few friends on Ello, he uses it mostly to look at pictures and art of people that he has found on the site. 

“I think Ello is really there for people who are privacy minded who don’t want companies exploiting their personal information to sell to advertisers,” he said. “In that respect, I definitely think that Ello offers a lot for people who want to share and communicate with their friends … But is it better than Facebook or Twitter? Right now, I would say no.”

Unlike other social media websites, Ello places emphasis on its user’s privacy. 

According to its website, user information is not sold to third parties; however, there are three exceptions to when Ello may give users’ information to other parties. These three exceptions are if the user provides Ello with permission, if there are legal issues and if Ello partners with another organization that offers certain services to users.

One feature on Ello allows users to filter the people they follow as either a “friend” or as “noise.” 

The people being followed will not know which category they have been placed in, but instead, users’ profiles only display the amount of followers they have, the amount of users they are following and who those users are.

After categorizing a person as either “friend” or “noise,” users are automatically added to that section without waiting for a request or confirmation.

The website’s interface is black and white and each user profile includes a section for a biography, a banner and circle avatar similar to Instagram.

Ello’s policy includes refraining from selling advertisements, and it declares that it is unethical when other social networks sell a user’s information as well as utilize other parts of a person’s social networking experience to make money.

“Right now the biggest priority is to roll out new features and make sure the community aspect of Ello is flourishing,” Budnitz wrote. “Things are still a little buggy, but (it) makes it an exciting adventure for everyone.” 

Taylor can be reached at [email protected].