Ello Experiencing Pains From Recent Growth

Ello, the beta social network that declares users "not a product" has experienced explosive growth for which it wasn't quite prepared.


Ello, the social network that tells users ‘You are not a product,’ has grown substantially, and continued growth seems promising. But as more users move to the site, they note that despite the lack of data mining, there also seems to be a lack of privacy and security features.

The burgeoning social site does have a straightforward privacy policy, but it comes with a strong caveat: “Ello is a public network.” The privacy policy continues, “You should assume that anything you post on Ello other than private messages will be accessed by others.” Even deleted content may be stored on Ello’s servers, or copied and posted to other places by users.

While most would see it as common sense, Ello didn’t have a simple block button until October 3rd. Ello does appear to be taking this problem seriously, and as users ask for more features, co-founder Todd Berger says those can wait.

“There are higher priorities — we have people here with needs, and we want to give them safety and security,” Berger told Betabeat.

That’s all well and good, but welivesecurity.com notes that Ello has some major problems when it comes to security and privacy. As a public network, Ello doesn’t even provide a private account option, which means that all content posted will be public. The combination of anonymous signups and the lack of private profiles provide harassers with an easy way to sidestep any blocking feature.

Other problems, according to welivesecurity.com, include: Search engines displaying profiles publically by default, there’s no feature for reporting offensive content, and other smaller problems like the visibility of usernames. There’s also the possibility of an acquisition in the future, which would mean that user data may no longer be private at all.

Ello is still in beta, so it’s not surprising that features are currently lackluster, but security and privacy features are not something to be taken lightly. Most of the complaints seem to be on the Ello team’s shortlist of priorities, which means the site could become more secure very quickly.