Facebook's ongoing privacy blunders, including secretly enrolling users in a psychological study and selling user data, is creating a backlash against the social media giant. It also leaves people searching for alternatives.
But it turns out that new networks positioning themselves as Facebook-killers and vowing to uphold so-called "Internet privacy" have no plans to be any different.
At the forefront of this drive to break Facebook's monopoly is a new network called Ello. The site's founder Paul Budnitz, in his manifesto, vowed to never sell user data saying: "You Are Not A Product."
Based on this, it's easy to criticize Budnitz and accuse him of deceiving Ello users. But the question to ask here is whether users should even seek privacy on social networks. Sharing and exchanging personal information with others is why sites like Facebook, Orkut and MySpace came into being in the first place. That's the nature of this beast. So why get worked up over it?
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Another, even more important reason, why social networks and Internet privacy can't go hand in hand is the financial aspect. Minus the subscription model, the only other way to fuel gigantic social networks is advertising. Hence, expecting an entrepreneur to keep on financing an entertainment platform for millions with no chance of a payback is unreasonable as much as impractical.
It's nice to see Ello gain a million-plus users within a few months of its launch. Its black and white theme gives a nice alternative to Facebook's blue and white, but that's the extent of their dissimilarities. Sooner or later, Budnitz will run out of money and his investors will demand a return on their $435,000 seed funding. That's when Ello will have to tread the path that Facebook took.