Social Networks

Mysterious New Social Network Ello Promises ‘You Are Not the Product’

Site publishes ominous manifesto. We still don't know what the hell it is.

Founder Paul Budnitz with the Ello logo eerily imposed over his face. [via Ello.co]

Founder Paul Budnitz with the Ello logo eerily imposed over his face. [via Ello.co]

A mysterious new social network called Ello.co has released its “manifesto” this morning.

So far, Ello has nothing up but a invite request box, a quick rundown of the team, and the manifesto. It used to play a fun animation of their logo cascading like the end of a game of Solitaire in Windows 98, but apparently the manifesto is the new priority:

“Your social network is owned by advertisers,” the manifesto says, “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.”

The site appears to be a collaboration between bicycle designer and toy maker Paul Budnitz and the graphic design lab Berger & Föhr. Though new social networks have trouble catching on when the appeal is simply better design, the promise of “simple, beautiful & ad free” brings to mind the flight from the increasingly gaudy MySpace toward a cleaner Facebook.

The manifesto has a kind of an Anonymous-like messianic tone, bringing to mind concerns over data brokers and NSA spying. But for all the invasiveness and commercialization of data that a company like Facebook is guilty of, it’s never been shown that people care enough to leave.

Still, part of Ello’s mystery is that it defines itself by what it’s not, which could be seen as a clever use of negative space, or could just be seen as vague. So what’s the product?

“You are not a product,” the manifesto says. Right then.

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