The world of social networks is a constant ebb and flow. New networks crop up, others fade again. A lot of new networks are created in an effort to offer an alternative to the big baddie: Facebook. The newest kid on the block is Ello. For a while I stubbornly ignored my social media feeds where early adopters were toting Ello around. But a few days ago I caved and accepted an invite. As of now I haven’t spent a lot of time on Ello, and it’s only in beta right now, but I already see a couple of problems with it that I just can’t get past:
Goodie Two-Shoes vs. Usability
Ello might not be showing me ads (yay!) and they might not be using my information for evil (yay!), but I find it terribly counter-intuitive. I dare say I’m considerably internet-savvy, but with Ello I just find myself clicking around irrationally because I can’t find anything. And half the time I don’t even know where I am. Is this /home? Is this where I see what my friends post? Can anybody hear me? And once interaction does happen it’s a bit confusing, as you can see in this screenshot, where my reply to my friend’s comment is shown above his original comment for some reason [screenshot used with permission from @benposch, of course]:
Ease of interaction vs. No interaction
In that screenshot you can also spot my second issue with Ello. I hate to say it but I’ve gotten used to being able to show appreciation with one click – be it a Facebook-Like, a Twitter-Favourite, a +1 on Google, or a commentless Re-Tumblr. Has the thumbs-up approach to conversations changed the internet into a less talkative place because people just hit a button instead of saying something? Yes, I believe so. But that doesn’t mean I’ll appreciate it if you take that tool away from me. And on Ello I can’t thumb up anything.
Real Names vs. Privacy concerns
A lot of the flack Facebook has caught is based on their recent real name policy crackdown. Forcing people to use their real name on Facebook is not okay. I personally use my real name on all my social networks but that’s a choice – it’s how I roll. And I have the advantage of moving about in a relatively safe environment. But other people don’t have that, and forcing them to use their real name on Facebook is actually putting them in harm’s way.
As a recent reviewer of Ello on tumblr, notyourexrotic, puts it: “I know many of you joined Ello due to Facebook’s real name policy, which has shown to be a great risk to performers, trans people, and others who do not reveal their legal name for security or personal identity reasons. And everyone’s super fond of Ello now because they promise not to sell your information to advertisers.”
But the other side to this is that Ello offers no privacy features at all. So you can easily use your pseudonym, but then everyone who knows that name can see everything you post, because on Ello you can’t block people and you can’t limit your audience.
“Ello deliberately does not have any sort of personal privacy settings, and it does not have any sort of features to block or report individuals, nor any way to consent to being followed.” – again, taken from notyourexrotic’s review. For more in-depth information on this I encourage you to read the original posting.
Hashtags vs. No Hashtags
Ello doesn’t recognise Hashtags. First of all that makes it unsuitable for use on a social wall (they also have no API at the moment) – which just happens to be something we at Walls.io care about. 😉 Second of all: Especially with a social network that requires you to find your friends by username it would be nice to at least be able to find people with similar interests – and hashtag use could help with that.
I’ve found that, in an absurd move, the way to find people on Ello right now is by posting on Facebook that you’re on Ello.
So what will I do? Regarding privacy on Facebook I will simply go on controlling what I share with whom, because with a little bit of thought that is very well possible. To avoid the ads I’ll keep using my trusty ad blocker. And for my social media happy place I’ll simply stick to Twitter – where I remain the owner of my information and can block people. And truth be told I’ll probably have forgotten all about Ello in a month or two.
All that being said, we do still have a couple of Ello Beta invites available to us. So if you want to build your own opinion on this new social network feel free to hit us up for an invite – just leave your email in the comments!