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  • Thursday 14 May 2015

    Ello and Other Social Networks' Mishaps


    Ello’s Initial Attraction

    The new social network Ello offered many features unlike Facebook. At first Ello’s entrance into the social media landscape this past September appeared to be about to take over the Facebook users. Young Facebook users were leaving Facebook in the millions, and Ello rushed in at this critical moment. What was their draw? The pitch was that Ello promised to have no ads, sell no data, have no requirement that users register with their real names and have no pornographic or obscene content restrictions. In its “manifesto” Ello stated: “Your social network is owned by advertisers. Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data.” Ello boasted that their new social network revenue would be made when its users elected to use their special features. In the week beginning September 29th, owner Paul Budnitz reported receiving 27,000 requests to join Ello per hour. Riding the wave of positive press as many exited Facebook due to their new policy of “real name”, Ello appeared to take over as the new homeland social network.

    Ello Blunders with Mistakes

    However, Ello held the spotlight only a brief time. Mistakes were made with their launch that were without a doubt embarrassing for them.

    • No privacy controls or blocking options --One huge mistake was the launching of the Ello without privacy controls or options for blocking. A Tumblr post reporting this actually went viral overnight. At that point, Ello circulated e-mails to their users assuring them that “privacy features are coming to Ello very soon” and Ello’s policies would include a “zero tolerance policy” for any harassing or abusive behaviors. Privacy features and the functionality of blocking are minimum requirements for social network users.

    • Initial zero pornography tolerance -- Another mistake of Ello was their initial promise to have a policy of a zero tolerance for pornography. Based on this policy, sex author Violet Blues tweeted her friends the Ello policy is: “No porn. We know it when we see it.” Violet commented, “We can’t trust that.” After an exchange of comments, Ello quickly changed their policy concerning “sexually explicit content” on their Rules page. They also added a comment that NSFW (not safe for work) post rules are in development. Erotic artists or sex workers would have to wait in order to use Ello in the same way they had been using Tumblr or Twitter.

    • Slurs rules lack gravitas – Although the rules page pointed out that slurs were “very uncool” and that users can report uncool behavior through their recent privacy Email, you certainly would want to see these behaviors treated with more gravitas if you had ever been on the receiving end of Internet harassment or slurs. Users certainly would quickly exit the social network if this occurred to them.

    • Ello lacked personalization features – Unlike Facebook with a plethora of features to personalize, Ello’s options for customization were lacking. There was absolutely no way to resize your images on the Ello site. Therefore, the only way you could manipulate your images was with the use of software. Otherwise, your page and mine would look the same. Ello planned to make money through the sale of access to options and features. Perhaps, the exodus from Ello meant that users weren’t willing to pay.

    With these errors, it is no wonder that Ello faded into ambiguity after having initially made news.

    Social Media that Never Made a Big Splash

    Google Buzz – Google Buzz was a social network developed by Google and also combined with Gmail, Google’s Email program. Google Buzz offered opportunities for users to share comments, status messages, photos, videos and links seen in the user’s inbox and ordered in conversations. With the discovery made by Nicholas Carson of a huge privacy flaw, not too many people wanted to use Google Buzz. The problem was that both the people you follow and the people that follow you were made public to users looking at your profile. They could learn who you chat or exchange Emails with. A class action lawsuit was filed with the FTC that resulted in an $8.5 million settlement. In October, 2011 Google Buzz was discontinued.

    Bitstrips – Bitstrips could make you hate Facebook. Since most people hate the comics on Facebook, the fact that Bitstrips is all comics doesn’t thrill many people. Few positive comments have been made about Bitstrips. Bitstrips doesn’t use words, but instead uses a comic avatar to deliver your message. The problem is it wastes so much time. The novelty of it wears thin quickly.

    Myspace – Although the social network Myspace had a good start, they were plagued by mismanagement, a faulty merger and a number of strategic blunders. One blunder was their allowing users to post everything and anything they wanted. Posts could be crude and offensive and not what any parent would allow. Also, the site was used mostly by musicians and artists to showcase their work. Many users simply saw no reason to stay. When Myspace returned, it was a platform for musicians and entertainers to stay in contact with their fans, but the exodus left no one to interact with. Though recently, Myspace has had a mini resurgence due to the social media phenomenon known as Throwback Thursday, where people post old photos of themselves with the hashtag #tbt.  Regardless, it will never see the heights of popularity it did during it glory days.

    Giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Google know that reinventing themselves is the key to staying relevant in the ever-changing landscape of social media. Whether Ello will gain prominence or continue to dissipate into oblivion remains to be seen, but if the aforementioned examples are any indication, Ello is saying goodbye in 2015.

    Jessica Kane

    Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who has worked in eCommerce for the last five years.  She currently writes for Rakuten Super Logistics and recommends them for allyour online order fulfillment needs to further your success.

    Sifiso Nkwanyana

    Author & Editor

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