Host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" Show

Shelly Palmer

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Ello is Too Facebook-y to Ever Dethrone Facebook


The hottest social network right now is Ello. You’ve probably heard of it on existing social media networks where people are begging for invites.

What is it? Basically, it’s an ad-free, improved privacy version of Facebook. The Guardian says it’s the social network of your dreams, and it’s easy to see why. The biggest criticism people hurl at Facebook is that their posts (or personal data) aren’t private in any way. To have a booming social network that does what Facebook does, but do it more securely and without ads? Heaven!

My guess is Ello is going to die out within a month or two.

I could be horribly, terribly wrong, of course. I originally had the idea to write about how no new social networks will ever catch on, but of course that’s not true. Google Plus failed, but Instagram is now (or will be soon) the most powerful social network in the world (for brands, anyway). Apps like Vine and Yo may not be juggernaut hits, but they both have strong, active fan bases.

That’s when I realized the key differentiator: every new social network that catches on does something no other network does:

  • Twitter offered micro-blogging before any other site really did.
  • Instagram offered the simplest way to share cool-looking photos with your friends.
  • Vine offered micro-video-blogging before any other site did (which Instagram stole).
  • Yo offered a completely new notification system.

But Ello? Ello is, at its core, Facebook. A billion people aren’t going to leave Facebook to go to a Facebook clone because there aren’t ads. People also aren’t going to leave Facebook to join a more secure and private network. Sure, Ello has 5+ million users, but Facebook has more than a billion. It’s the gold standard.

Yes, people hate ads, but there are ways to get around them. Yes, privacy and security are worse than they’ve ever been, but it’s a gradual decline and we’ve already given up hope. Even massive breaches aren’t enough of a tipping point where we’ll change the way we live and work online. A small percentage of the general public will after their credit card is hacked or they’re forced to change their Gmail password, but the rest of us accept it and move on.

That’s why Ello will fail. It’s building its platform around the assumption that we’re so fed up with the way things are that we demand radical change. That change is its differentiating factor from Facebook, and it isn’t enough. Ello may live on – maybe forever – but it’s not a game-changer. It can’t be.

Prove me wrong, Ello.

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More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.