Ello, Mate! 6 reasons why the LGBTQ community should give the newest social network a shot
We all love our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but each of these popular social networks come with annoyances that can muddle the connected experience.
Facebook, over the past year, has igniting a firestorm of controversy regarding its ‘Real Name’ policy, wherein users must “use the name they use in real life,” much to the dismay of marketing-savvy drag queens everywhere. Twitter, in its efforts to curb offensive tweets, has been heavy-handed in deciding what’s considered inappropriate, resulting in tweets flagged by error due to a fallible algorithm. And over at Instagram, NSFW images are a no-no, despite that the distinction is relative to each user, giving individuals the ability to report your “offensive” pics, which can result in warnings or even a suspended account.
Enter Ello, a new social network that has eliminated the restrictive elements of our standard networks to create a freer, more inclusive society accessible with the flick of a finger. On Ello, you can use whatever name you’d like; you can post NSFW images (and opt in or out of seeing them in your feed); and there are no ads, which makes the intrusive data mining of other common networks non-existent.
But perhaps the most interesting facet of Ello is that the LGBTQ community is at the core of its focus.
“Ello takes a stand for LGBTQ issues, because we – the founders who still control the company – believe these are fundamental civil rights issues, both for ourselves, LGBTQ employees current and future, and members of the Ello community,” says co-founder Paul Budnitz, who, along with six partners, created the platform.
If that’s not enough encouragement to become an early adopter, here are 6 other LGBTQ reasons you should give Ello a go.
1. Ello doesn’t require real names
Whether you’re a drag queen, a survivor of domestic violence, or just somebody who prefers to maintain a modicum of privacy on the web, Ello understands. The network allows you to choose any name you’d like, and it will never ask you to change it.
“This is a big deal, because there are many people in the LGBTQ community who use an alias, either because they want to or for the sake of privacy and safety,” Budnitz says. ”There are still 22 states where you can be fired for being gay, and 10 countries in the world where you can be put to death.
2. It’s ad-free, so there’s no need for censorship
In many cases, censorship on social networks is a result of other users reporting what they consider inappropriate content (which can vary widely from person to person) or the network’s attempt to control the content so it doesn’t offend conservative advertisers. Because Ello is ad-free, there are no advertisers to please, leaving little room for restrictions.
“Ello doesn’t censor,” Budnitz boasts. “On other networks they have really started to restrict what they consider more edgy content, simply because it may offend an advertiser with conservative values. ‘Edgy’ can be just talking about gay marriage and the LGBTQ lifestyle. Since we have no advertisers we need to please, we’re free to let people be themselves.”
3. As a result, you can post all the NSFW selfies you want on Ello
No advertisers + no censorship = you can finally clean out that naughty cache you’re keeping.
“We feel that it would be impossible for us to decide what is and isn’t NSFW without censoring,” explains Budnitz. “Instead, we require anyone who posts NSFW content to just mark their accounts as such — and when in doubt, mark your account. Then people can choose whether or not they want to see it on their settings page. This works for everyone, and everyone feels respected.”
4. Ello takes pride in our Pride
While Ello launched last September on the web, the Ello iPhone app only recently launched on June 18. To mark the occasion and its alignment with Pride Month, Ello designed a rainbow logo to show its solidarity with our community.
“By creating a Pride version of the Ello logo, we express that as a company we take a stand for what we believe in,” Budnitz says.
5. Ello also hosted a Pride Day to protest Facebook’s ‘Real Name’ policy
Ello supported the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a charitable and activist group run by drag queens, who held a protest against Facebook at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters on June 1, despite the threats of dissenters.
“When we launched Ello Pride Day, a few thousand people left Ello in protest — but about three times that many signed up,” Budnitz recalls. “I actually wrote a post that was reposted several hundred times, where I pointed out that Ello respects and welcomes all points of view. It’s important that the new majority – those who support LGBTQ rights, gay marriage, etc. – commit to not repeat the evils of those that opposed us in the past when we were the minority; that we always be respectful of others, even if they don’t agree with us.”
“We received many comments and posts from people who don’t agree with LGBTQ issues, but who stayed on Ello because they feel respected,” he continues. “I think that’s awesome. All that said, our company policy is to firmly support LGBTQ issues, including gay marriage and our No Real Name policy.”
Ello also ran live coverage of the protest on the network.
6. Its partnership with the LGBTQ community runs deep
In addition to the June 1 protest, Ello has committed itself to other LGBTQ causes.
“Our partnership with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is just the start,” Budnitz says. “We’ve financially supported a filmmaker who is making a documentary on people’s reactions to Facebook’s ‘Real Name’ policy. We’re also participating in the Denver Pride Parade, where our main tech office is based; some of our employees are marching in the parade.”
7. Ello’s acceptance and embracement of the LGBTQ community is legit
Bottom line: There is no other mainstream social network available that has committed itself so strongly to the LGBTQ community.
“Ello loves and welcomes you with more than words,” Budnitz asserts.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world, including CNN.com, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, Instinct magazine, and Out.com, among many others. He splits his time between homes in New York City and the Jersey Shore with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.
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