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What is Ello? How to get invites, beta and login

Ello beta

There's a lot of fuss about a new social network, but what is Ello, how do you get an invite and should you really ditch Facebook?

Tired of Facebook and want to get on Ello? Getting an invite to the Ello beta is easy and we’ll explain how. Ello is Facebook from 2005, before it got jammed up with extra features and adverts for protein shakes. Ello was launched in April 2014 but only started to get noticed in September (we’ll explain why later). Unlike other social networks Ello is ad-free, invite only and still in beta. As with other social networks Ello lets you create a profile, post updates and add your friends.

The site markets itself as the ‘anti-Facebook’. In its so-called manifesto Ello calls out other social networks for tracking, recording and converting your life into data that is used to sell adverts. Ello claims to be different. This is what an Ello profile looks like.

Ello profile

How do I get an invite?

Go to and put your email address on the waiting list, but don’t expect an invite anytime soon. Ello is currently in closed beta, so invites are only being sent out in very small batches. If you want to get on Ello right now then you’ll need an invite from someone who is already in. Check with Facebook and Twitter friends to see if anyone is on Ello. If that doesn’t work you’ll need to trawl Twitter for invite codes. Try the hashtags #elloinvitecode and #elloinvitation.

Is Ello any good?

It is certainly different. It looks simple – black text on a white background and little else. Your profile it little more than a profile picture, header image, small bio and a link. Posts can contain text and images mixed together and there is also support for a few emoticons. People you follow are split into ‘Friends’ and ‘Noise’, so you can follow people you actually know and randomers and keep their updates separate.

While your Facebook feed might be full of people’s baby pictures and dodgy political opinions Ello is (so far) mostly populated by artists and Instagram lovers. If you like pictures of mountains and geometric GIFs then you’ll love Ello.

A full run-down of current and in development Ello features is available on the WTF section of the website. As the site is still in development it is rather buggy. The main problem is persuading all your friends to make the move with you. It’s all very well joining Ello but it isn’t any fun without friends.

Why is Ello suddenly so popular?

Blame Facebook. In late September about 30,000 people an hour were flocking to Ello and most of them were coming from Facebook. People have lots of gripes with Facebook – it has adverts, it sells your data and it is full of spammy games. But the main reason people started leaving Facebook in their droves was that they didn’t want to use their real names.

Facebook now insists that people use their real names, which is problematic for the LGBTQ community. Many people don’t identify with their birth name, especially those who don’t identify with their birth gender. Facebook lets people pick from a huge list of over 50 gender identities while also including an option to drop the ‘he’ or ‘she’ pronoun from their profiles. Despite this Facebook has started shutting down user profiles of drag queens and transgender people as they don’t comply with its naming policy.

Why did the LGBTQ community chose Ello?

Ello has a “zero-tolerance policy” for abusive behaviour. That means no hate, trolling, stalking, spamming, flaming or posting anything that is designed to hurt other people physically or emotionally. A big promise and one that could be quite hard to enforce. The pledge of no abuse is certainly enticing and could be one reason that some from the LGBTQ community have moved to Ello.

Facebook and Twitter have systems for reporting abuse but tend to be very hands off when it comes to moderating. While this zero-tolerance policy can work on a small social network Ello could have problems when it gets more popular. Also never underestimate the cool factor of being new and unknown.

How does Ello make money?

Ello doesn’t run adverts. It also doesn’t charge people. So how does it make money? Ello says it is planning to launch some premium features alongside the free version and that could in theory allow it to keep a site with no adverts.

But you’d be a fool to think that Ello is “more moral” than Facebook simply because it uses cute language and looks hip. Ello is funded by venture capitalists, with $435,000 raised recently. Venture capitalists want to see a return on their investment and Ello will need to start making money soon.

Will Ello kill Facebook?

No. But then nobody thought MySpace would fail so fast and so hard. Facebook is hugely dominant and even the might of Google has so far failed to trouble it. Google+,, Path, Orkut and countless others have all failed to be the ‘new Facebook’ for the same reason – not enough people want to leave Facebook.

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