A new social network is enjoying a surge of new users, as many people are deserting their Facebook accounts due to their controversial name change policy.
Ello is an ad-free, invitation only social network which was established in 2013. It is now being hailed by some as the ‘anti-Facebook’, and has seen many new users from the LGBTI community.
The recent row around Facebook’s name policy means several accounts have been deleted by administrators because they do not comply. Any users who have a ‘fake’ or ‘invented’ name on their profile are in danger of having their account deleted.
This has been particularly problematic for members of the LGBTI community. Especially those who do not identify with their assigned gender, or those who perform as drag queens.
San Francisco drag performer Sister Roma was forced to change her personal profile name to Michael Williams. And a Change.org petition created by fellow drag queen Olivia LaGarce demanded Facebook allowed users to sue whatever name they choose, and has currently collected over 34,000 signatures of support.
Ello creator Paul Budnitz spoke to The Daily Dot about why Ello is more receptive to LGBTI people.
‘We’ve been hearing about the Facebook drama too over the last few days,’ Budnitz said.
‘Ello welcomes the LGBTQ community and we’re very excited to see so many people moving over!
‘You don’t have to use your ‘real name’ to be on Ello. We encourage people to be whoever they want to be.
‘As soon as the LBGTQ community started coming on in large numbers, we decided that we needed to add privacy controls and new ways for users to report abusive behavior by others.
‘Basically, we are protecting everyone on Ello (including LGBTQ users ) from people who may post hateful comments.’
Similarly, Vox.com reported at one point Ello was seeing a sign up rate of 31,000 new users per hour.
A Facebook spokesperson spoke to GSN about their stance on real names on user profiles.
‘If people want to use an alternative name on Facebook, they have several different options available to them, including providing an alias under their name on their profile, or creating a page specifically for that alternative persona.
‘As part of our overall standards, we ask that people who use Facebook provide their real name on their profile.’
As Ello is an invitation only site, users must wait for an invite from a friend. Ello also prides itself on having none of the information grabbing technology that Facebook regularly comes under fire for.