[iDC] Ello--Alternative to Facebook

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at uti.at
Fri Sep 26 09:23:21 UTC 2014

Alternative to Facebook?

The important question is if Ello is a for-profit company or not and if 
not, if it attempts to become one or not. The important point is how the 
founders and those operating it relate to capitalism.

It says it does not commodify data for advertising purposes - good!

It however also says https://ello.co/wtf/post/privacy:
"We may share your personal information with third parties under several 
circumstances, including [...] if we contract with a third party service 
provider to offer services for you — for example, with a credit card 
processing company if you decide to buy something through Ello. Ello 
does not have any affiliated companies right now. But if we do in the 
future, we may share information with them, too."

"offer services for you" can mean anything - the crucial thing is if 
Ello or the service-provider make monetary profit by providing this 
service or ever in the future intend to do so. This is not clarified.

Ello further says https://ello.co/wtf/post/about-ello:

"We occasionally offer special features to our users. If we create a 
special feature that you really like, you may choose to support Ello by 
paying a very small amount of money to add that feature to your Ello 
You never have to pay anything, and you can keep using Ello forever, for 
free. By choosing to buy a feature now and then for a very small amount 
of money you support our work and help us make Ello better and better."

It is unclear here if Ello if these features are offered in order to get 
donations that fund a non-profit organisation or if the intention is to 
accumulate capital.

Being ad-free is not enough - the point is that you have to be 
non-capitalist in order to be an alternative to Facebook.

Ello says nowhere if it is a for-profit company, a hobby project of a 
bunch of artists, a co-operative, or whatever. It seems to conceal its 
legal status and that's a problem.

Ello says: "Ello is a Public Network" https://ello.co/wtf/post/privacy. 
You are only truly public if you are public service or commonly owned.

It is unclear what Ello is - and that it is not communicating its legal 
status and what its relationship to capitalism is, is troubling. A 
privacy policy and terms of use that do not rule out that a platform is 
or ever becomes capitalist are just as bad as Facebook's.

Best, Christian

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