Dubbed the “anti-Facebook”, ‘Ello is a new social network that is free of advertisers. According to their manifesto, “You are the product that’s bought and sold”. And honestly, that should not come as a shock to you.
Although it is sad that this fact is so blatant these days, it’s honestly no surprise that we, the consumer, have also become the commodity. And Facebook is not to blame. Ever since our online activity has become tractable, companies have used that information to target, remind, and serve us ads whenever and wherever possible.
I remember a few years ago, my mom kept asking me why she would always see the same Nordstroms ad no matter where she was looking online. My first question to her was, “Were you recently on the Nordstroms site? Did you buy anything?” She told me she didn’t, she was just looking at shoes. I explained to her that Nordstroms saw that, and they want her to come back and finish the purchase. So how is this any different from Facebook serving you ads from the sites you visit? Aren’t they, essentially, just another website?
Advertisers have tremendous technology that tracks every click you make, every online purchase, and every abandoned cart. With all this in mind, I honestly don’t see what the big deal is with ‘Ello (I should also mention that I don’t quite care for Facebook either). Facebook is a business, whose function is to make money, just like any other business. Yes, we could all talk about the “good old days” before it went public, but what’s the point in that?
Although the stand that ‘Ello is taking is admirable, at this point it’s too late. Online privacy is essentially non-existent, and will probably never exist again. The sooner this is accepted, the sooner we can move on.