Concern over Facebook’s “real name” policy continues to mount, and it seems that the issue is causing more of the omnipresent social network’s sinister-skewing practices to come to public focus.
Namely, that Facebook’s “users” aren’t the ones posting selfies and check-ins — they’re the product. The real users are the advertisers, and Facebook’s status as a publicly traded company means its loyalty will always be to profit. And once they profit, they’ll have to profit more.
And so you may have noticed a serious uptick in complaints — everything from the #mynameis tag combating forced identity to concerns over Facebook Messenger’s creepy and invasive terms of service to stories going viral about the company’s plan to begin charging people a monthly fee.
That last item, it should be noted, is a hoax. But that’s not really the point. So many people believed it because it’s now become expected that Facebook will stoop to new lows. Which is a big image problem when you want to be seen as a “for the people” kind of company.
The irony is that all the gripes about real or fake issues with Facebook are aired out to dry on Facebook itself. No matter what you say about the network, it has some serious critical mass. Teenage goths, porn stars, prison guards and your annoying Aunt Bethany all share one thing in common: they’re all on Facebook.
For many in the LGBT community though, the benefits of staying plugged into a massive, rigid 1.2 billion-member network that sells their social patterns to the highest bidder is losing its appeal by the minute. There’s never been a louder cry for Facebook deactivation among drag performers and other members of the community. Hundreds have already left, and many more plan to rally behind grassroots campaigns to flee — there’s one called #LetsGhostFacebook planned on October 31st.
There just hasn’t been a promising alternative until now. Google+ was dead upon arrival, LinkedIn is just horrific and the drag queen-centric reactionary Dragbook is too tunnel-visioned.
But you may have started to see that ominously cute black circle with a smiley face popping up more and more in your feed.
It’s the logo of a new site called Ello, and while still only in beta, it’s becoming the destination of a steady migration away from Facebook.
Founded by Paul Budnitz, Ello is the only social network out there with a manifesto — one that, for the moment, has a kind of punk-rock appeal in the face of Silicon Valley corporate might.
The mission statement on their invite-only site reads in part, “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.”
Budnitz made his name in the commercial-meets-creative space as the founder of Kid Robot, a store that blurs the line between toys and art. With locations in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boulder and Las Vegas, the company has turned selling designer toys into an art in and of itself. They even have 13 of their creations in the permanent collection at MoMa.
Together with a group of friends who all felt “exhausted by ads, clutter, and feeling manipulated and deceived by companies that clearly don’t have [their] interests at heart,” Budnitz created Ello as a decidedly anti-Facebook.
And now that Ello is being embraced by so many in the queer community, Budnitz is happy to play the role of benevolent gatekeeper to the social network promised land.
“Yes, we’ve been hearing about the Facebook drama too over the last few days,” Budnitz said. “Ello welcomes the LGBTQ community and we’re very excited to see so many people moving over! There does seem to be a bit of an avalanche…”
Of course, Ello has a long way to go before it’s a fully up-and-running Facebook alternative. But everyone’s got to start somewhere, and we’re looking forward to watching how these chips fall.
I reject the idea that G+ is DOA. Sure the numbers arent there but i am not looking for exposure. I am looking for functionality with my friends. If you use gmail, all of your contacts are there, your pictures, and whats not therebis exploitation of your interactions. There is MUCH less marketing because that’s not how Google markets.
While I really love how easy it is to connect with friends, old and new, on Facebook and especially social issues, the invasive nature of Facebook has begun to mimic the anti-GLBT society which we have fought to change. The path to creating a better on-line world is difficult. But, I think that, as a person who has been on the “net” before there was an “internet”, gay-people have been at the forefront and foundation of this new electronic way of connecting. Without us, there probably would not be a Facebook today. We can, as our history has shown, take our “business” elsewhere, and our friends will most likely eventually follow. Facebook would do well to listen. I hope I do not have to move my account, but I am willing to do so if such a move is a part of a coordinated effort to show the World that we do have a power that can move mountains of bigotry.
If you aren’t paying for a product, you ARE the product.
This has always proven to be true.
If you’re a performer, make a fan page under any name you want. That doesn’t seem hard and you can have a personal page for people you actually know.
I was invited to sign up for Ello last week and did so on my iPhone but was not that impressed in fact I have yet to return to visit the site. It has a ways to go before it would get me to use it regularly.
@Larry: The only problem is that Google is just as stringent, if not more so than Facebook, about using your real name.
There are plenty of reasons to hate Facebook.
Anyway, there’s something quietly creepy about that photoshopped image.
Anyone who is still on facebook just isn’t paying attention.
I’d love to be on ello but it says it is invitation only.
They just closed the invitations down due to heavy demand.
“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.”
As Bill Hicks put it: That’s great. Go for the Anti-Marketing Marketing Dollar. Brilliant.
That shit is mad fucking embarrassing. Put a pair of sunglasses on it and send it off on a skateboard, it’s totes individual. Pfft.
This really is the stupidest thing I have seen queerly users bitch about. The Facebook real name policy is designed to protect users from online abuse from anonymous users.The policy prevents people from creating a Facebook account just to harass another individual anonymously without consequence. It has been in place since the beginning of Facebook and it’s core to the Facebook user experience.doing away with this policy just to appease some people who are constantly complainingwould not really help anyone and it would just hurt again teenagers who are already subject to two much online harassment. If their peers to go on create a Facebook account anonymously and post horrible things about them who does that help?
Comments are closed.