Will Ello Truly Challenge Facebook?

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Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) famously penned the line that “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” and those who are beginning to suggest that upstart social network Ello is a potential “Facebook Killer” should probably hold off on the death knells. At least for now and, let’s face it, the foreseeable future.

Will Ello Truly Challenge Facebook?

That’s not, however, to say that Ello isn’t at least a curious offering and something worth speaking to as it gains traction in its “invite only” stages. Just have a look at your Facebook Newsfeed and see if you haven’t seen reference to the “new” social network.

Ello, if you’re not familiar, is for all intents and purposes the anti-Facebook. It is insistent that accepts no advertising and does no data mining and that right there is enough of a reason that it should not be dismissed when the PRISM program and Facebook’s behavior study is still fresh in the minds of people you care about their privacy and “The Man.”

Hey, “You want to buy an invite”

If nothing else, Ello has great timing…oh and a manifesto or at least a holier than though stance.

“Your social network is owned by advertisers,” reads Ello’s “about” page. “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. … We believe there is a better way.”

Ello is still in Beta mode and requires an invite to join but it its primary creator, Paul Budnitz, has told media outlets that the site is seeing 4,000 sign-ups per hour. A story from Betabeat who spoke with Budnitz was published Thursday suggests that number is now nearing 28,000 sign-ups per hour at the risk of crashing Ello’s servers.

This week has even seen the number of invites selling on eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) rise dramatically.

Ello gaining traction

The reason for the uptick? Twofold, I would imagine. One with more users comes an exponential amount of people whom can invite others. And people are just tired of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). And many truly resent a new Facebook policy that is cracking down on accounts not “associated with a government ID.” This includes musicians using pseudonyms and many in the LGBT community whom use alternate names to protect themselves.

“I don’t know if it’s going to ever be ‘the next big thing,’ but it is definitely in the right place at the right time,” said Christopher-Ian Reichel, a user-experience executive in New York. “And Facebook is at a critical moment where entire segments of its audience are all looking to jump ship.”

Obviously, its buggy and where revenues are going to come from is important. However, I think there are a number of people who would happily pay for a well put together social network that includes the bulk of their contacts and frees them of ads or data mining or even the ownership of their pictures among other concerns in with the ever-changing terms of service that Facebook gives us.

Ello, does however risk being the social network of hipsters who then jump ship when their mom or Hillary Clinton appear.

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