Ello, a social network where real names are not required, is getting a boost after Facebook booted drag queens. Its founder, Paul Budnitz, told Betabeat the Web site, which rolled out in July, is now getting 4,000 new signups per hour. That could not be independently verified.
“Yes, we’ve been hearing about the Facebook drama too over the last few days,” Budnitz told the Daily Dot. “Ello welcomes the LGBTQ community and we’re very excited to see so many people moving over!”
Ello caught on with the LGBT community after Facebook recently disabled the accounts of some drag artists who used their performance names on their profiles instead of their “real” names. Ru Paul recently backed the movement. The policy also affects those who may choose names that reflect the nuances of their gender or use a pseudonym to avoid harassment. Musicians affected by the policy have also complained.
LGBT activists met with Facebook last week and said they felt targeted by the policy and expressed concern about cyberbullying if they used their real names. Facebook stood by its policy.
“We had a good discussion with the group about their perspectives on our real name standard, and we stressed how the standard helps prevent bad behavior, while creating a safer and more accountable environment,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Souvall said in the statement to Buzzfeed.
The activists scheduled a protest for Oct. 2.
Budnitz told the Daily Dot the spike in signups for Ello appears to correlate with the controversy over Facebook’s real name policy. But not everyone from the LGBT community who turned to Ello was impressed.
One member of the LGBT community complained the lack of privacy controls and a mechanism for blocking users made Ello less safe than mainstream social networks such as Facebook. She’d rather deal have Facebook sell her data to advertisers than deal with trolls.
“Marketing doesn’t usually try to ruin my career, or spread personal rumours about me, or harass me about my race or gender or sexuality,” she wrote. “People do. People in my specific social circles, many of whom have jumped onto Ello as their next Facebook replacement … having my legal name on Facebook (or even other sites like Twitter or Tumblr), is less of a problem for me than having no option to filter my content or block/report specific people.”
In response, Ello e-mailed users saying privacy controls and a block button is in the works.
“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,” Budnitz said. “Basically, we are protecting everyone on Ello (including LGBTQ users) from people who may post hateful comments.”
That gave little comfort to one Ello user who wrote on the site: “If a social network can’t figure out that it will need a block button on its own, I don’t have much hope for its survival.”