This week, the social-networking site Ello exploded onto the scene. The site is slowly letting new users in, and in declarations that sound eerily familiar, some are calling it “the Facebook killer.” Whether people will truly flock to Ello from Facebook, or whether it will go the route of Google+ and other Facebook killers before it, remains to be seen. But it’s worth looking at the way Ello launched, and in particular its central claim.
Ello went for the manifesto launch—the kind that proclaims a certain world view, and literally asks its prospective users to Agree or Disagree with that world view. In Ello’s case, their claim is simple: “You are not a product,” they say. Here’s the full manifesto:
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.
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.
It’s pretty clear that Ello is firing shots at Facebook—the social site that makes its money by treating its users as the product. The idea that us users are the product for a site like Facebook isn’t new. Media analysts declared last year that Graph Seach confirmed it, but all the way back in 2010 Bruce Schneier said “Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re Facebook’s customer, you’re not—you’re the product. Its customers are the advertisers.”