Hello, Ello? Try again.
There has been a substantial amount of controversy about a policy Facebook began implementing recently regarding the use of "made up names" on its platform. While there is certainly a lot to be said on this issue from a LGBT perspective as well as a marketing ideology, there is another interesting layer that has popped up alongside this debate. A new social network named Ello has seen a surge in activity with claims of 4,000 new users per hour.
The Ello self-identified platform is one where people are "not a product." Their manifesto declares, “We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment, not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.” Real names are not required, boosting the uptick from drag queens, abuse survivors, and others not wanting to share their real identity.
The idea of a platform that seeks to empower people sounds good on paper but makes no sense in reality. Why would someone spend their time and money developing something only for concern of "connecting, creating, and celebrating life?" Simple answer - they wouldn't. Facebook has not become the data depository it is today by not having end goals. And those goals, as a company, are to make money. And now, as a publicly traded company, that is to make money for its public shareholders as well. You can disagree with its practices, you can choose not to use it, but you can not ignore the way it has changed ideas about marketing and its ability to offer benefits to customers.
Ello directly attacks facebook in its statement saying it is not a tool to, "deceive, coerce, and manipulate." Wow. Again, there is no organization or person forcing you to be a member of the facebook community. Is it easier to stay in touch with friends and family using it? Maybe. Are companies able to utilize information about you to market their products and services to you as a potential customer? Sure. But you can't have the good without the bad as they say and, in choosing to utilize the service, you are choosing to take the bad with the good.
I think consumers, especially in the LGBT community, jumping ship to Ello are going to be sorely disappointed and see a new set of problems with their experience. The platform is currently set up so that there is ZERO ability to block people which I feel is more of a concern for someone concerned about privacy than some of the other issues being thrown around. Additionally, I will be the first one to say. "I told you so," when Ello decides how they want to monetize their product - which they will. (Probably through advertising.)
Stop kidding yourself and think about the true facets of social media and why it was designed. Sharing cute memes and puppy pictures is certainly fine, but not even close to the reality of these data-driven marketing systems.