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A new, exclusive social network is perhaps on the verge of becoming Facebook’s next biggest threat.

With well over a billion users, Facebook has become one of, if not the most, profitable networks in history. Its business plan, though complex, revolves around two major, yet controversial, areas: advertisements and user data. Advertisements have gradually begun to appear more often on the social network, while even more alarmingly, user data is increasingly being sold to third parties, raising many privacy concerns.

Ello, a relatively new and exclusive social network, has created quite the buzz over the past year due to its “anti-Facebook” stance on privacy and advertising. A recent Yahoo article describes it as “perhaps the hottest ticket on the internet”.

While still very small relative to the size of Facebook, the invitation-only Ello has been receiving up to 35,000 requests per hour, with some invitations selling for almost $500 on eBay.

Yet the excitement and buzz over such a network is certainly understandable. Through the years, Facebook has received harsh criticisms for its constantly changing privacy policies. Users, consistently disgruntled with privacy concerns, have not, however, taken considerable action –most still continue to use the social network that connects them to the majority of their friends and family.

This only serves to show how social media networks such as Facebook have taken over the lives of their users. People have become so dependent on their profiles and personal networks that even the most serious of privacy breaches do not concern them enough to quit using the networks.

Anti Facebook Stickers, Ello

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Personally, even I am guilty of this dependence on my existing social media networks. After years of building up my Facebook profile and establishing new relationships while fostering existing ones, the benefit and convenience of having my friends and family on a single network outweighs the concerns I may have regarding Facebook’s sharing of my personal data.

Ello, however, seeks to change the status-quo, offering a viable alternative and giving people a way to protest the privacy violations without sacrificing their entire social networks, per say. Its own manifesto states: “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.”

Ello’s stated goal of a social network without advertisements and privacy concerns is certainly likely to appeal to many social media users. It remains to be seen, however, if Ello will be able to snatch away users from Facebook and become the next big thing or if will just turn out to be another fad that dies out just as quickly as it appeared.

Featured image courtesy of Venveo

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