Should You Sign Up For Ello?

If you're sick of seeing ads interspersed with your friends' baby news and karaoke pictures, it's time to make your escape. A new social network called Ello is like Facebook without the ads — and, like its social media cousins, it's free. So what's the catch? Nothing, Ello insists. In fact, the social media start-up was built on the principle that users are not products that can be bought and sold. So is Ello the "tool for empowerment" it says it is?

Ello, which sounds like Eliza Doolittle greeting you, says it was founded by a group of artists and designers who originally built the site as a private network. Tired of the ad-filled experience on Facebook, Twitter, and other major social networks, the group sought to build something different. "Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers," Ello writes on its site.

Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers. You're the product that's being bought and sold.

In fact, Ello thinks that ads are downright "tacky" and "insult our intelligence."

Ello doesn't sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties ... We originally built Ello as a private social network. Over time, so many people wanted to join Ello that we built a public version of Ello for everyone to use.

So if you want a more enlightened social network experience free of ads, sponsored posts, and any other clutter, then Ello might be perfect for you.

It Has a Vision

Unlike the social media start-ups that started out ad-free and eventually turned to ad revenue as their business grew, Ello's concept is based on an ad-free experience. Its manifesto states:

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.You are not a product.

It's Invite Only

Currently, you can only join if someone who's already on it invites you. Or you can request an invititation on Ello's homepage.

According to one of its founders, Paul Budnitz, Ello is blowing up so quickly, they've been receiving 4,000 invite requests per hour.

Facebook For Hipsters?

It's been called a "hipster," site, and the look is reminiscent of certain Tumblr themes. Photos look bigger and crisper against the stark, uncluttered white background.

It Has Some Familiar Features

Ello offers a different kind of site without being too foreign. Like Facebook, you can choose a profile picture and a cover photo, but the latter acts more like a wallpaper since you can scroll down the page to reveal a full-size picture.

You can also post short messages (aka status updates), photos, and @ reply to your friends like you do on Twitter. Fully aware of our priorities, Ello also supports emojis, but you have to manually input the emoji codes to generate them. The site offers an emoji cheat sheet for those of us who don't have them memorized, which is a large majority of us, I would imagine.

It Has Some New Features

Unlike Facebook, you can divide your Ello friends into Friends and Noise, a feature that further declutters your page. We probably all know that feeling of scrolling through dozens of status updates from fringe friends or distant relatives before landing on one from someone we actually care to read up on. Well, now you can easily single out content you're interested by listing those people under Friends. The rest? Noise.

And maybe Ello's best feature of all? It's GIF-compatible.

Images: Ello