Ello Sees Surge of Interest in Ad-free Social Networking

Ello offers a refuge from Facebook's new policies, and users are responding with interest.

Ello, the ad-free social network, has attracted a surge of interest in the last week. Created by Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz, the site is still in beta and is currently invite-only, but it cracked Google’s top 10 hot trends list on Wednesday, and Betabeat reports that Ello is getting nearly 4,000 requests to join an hour.

Facebook frustration seems to be at the root of the Ello’s sudden popularity. The Daily Dot reported that Facebook’s real-name policy has driven “an exodus” of LGBTQ users away from the social stalwart due to the policy’s discrimination toward drag performers and those who use pseudonyms for safety or other professional reasons.

“You don’t have to use your ‘real name’ to be on Ello. We encourage people to be whoever they want to be,” Budnitz told The Daily Dot. “All we ask is that everyone abide by our rules (which are posted on the site) that include standards of behavior that apply to everyone. We have a zero tolerance policy for hate, stalking, trolls and other negative behavior and we’ll permanently ban and nuke accounts of anyone who does any of this, ever.”

Ello is welcoming those who are granted access with a black smiley face logo, a spare design and manifesto about the perils of social media. An excerpt:

“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. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.”

Many features on Ello still in development, but users can share posts, send messages and have conversations much like they would on Facebook, just without all the clutter. As how the site will generate revenue, Budnitz isn’t too concerned about that, though he is considering a “pay-what-you-like” model for upcoming features.

“Honestly, we don’t really pay much attention to what Facebook and others are doing,” said Budnitz. “We’re just building Ello into the network that all of us really want to use, and it turns out that Facebook (and all the other networks) are doing just the opposite.”