Vero Has Arrived And It’s Sending A Clear Message To Facebook
Earlier this year Facebook took an unusual step for a multi billion dollar corporation and announced that it had screwed up. Badly.
Not only had they let the newsfeed become a cesspit of half-baked viral videos and outright political conspiracy, but their product was having negative health consequences for the people who use it the most. Unsurprisingly for a company with a valuation of $513 Billion, Facebook thinks it can fix its problems, but the overnight success of Vero, “The True Social Network”, suggests that more and more users are becoming disenfranchised by the endless algorithmic tweakings' and data minings that’s become synonymous with the social media behemoths.
And Vero really is an over night success. Launched by Lebanese billionaire Ayman Harri, it has gone from 150,000 downloads last week to over 3 Million on March 2nd. While Facebook is grabbing headlines for unknowingly disseminating Russian-bought ads that influenced elections across the Western world and Instagram is receiving continued backlash for it’s clunky feed, Vero is capitalising on the zeitgeist for unfiltered, uncontaminated social feeds that hearken back to the glory days of Myspace and 2005 era dorm-room Facebook.
In fact, Vero’s proposition is a direct response to user backlashes against Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. It even has a “manifesto” to spell this out. It says “(social networks) offered the promise of constant connection and the means to keep in touch… but as time passed, an imbalance began to form between the interests of the platforms and the best interests of the users. And a false sense of connection left us lonelier than ever.”
There are two issues in particular that Vero has set out to address:
- Overloaded ad inventory — Unlike Facebook et al, Vero has announced it will not make money through ads, but through an annual subscription. This not only addresses concerns about the latitude of data-mining on social, but it also sends a clear signal about ad inventory. Users are seeing too many ads and they’re getting fed up with it.
- Non-chronological newsfeeds — All of our newsfeeds are controlled by a set of rules that are designed to serve us with the content we are most likely to engage with so that we stay on the platform for longer. Instagram has faced major backlash over the untimely delivery of week-old posts that it thinks we’ll love. It turns out we don’t and Vero has designed it’s feed around this principle- only one thing determines whether a post from a friend or followed user arrives in your feed and that’s when it was posted.
The newbie clearly has a massive job on its hands, not only does Facebook tend to consume any competitor through buy-outs or outright imitation, but Vero is already facing allegations of misuse of content through it’s wide ranging terms of service that give it control of how it uses content uploaded by users. A big blow to its “holier-than-thou” image already then.
Ultimately, new social networks pop up all the time (remember Ello?) and their contribution to the greater good isn’t that they become the next Facebook (who needs another Facebook?), but that they remind Silicon Valley of public sentiment in vivid terms. It’s almost inevitable the Vero will be another notch on Facebook’s war-axe this time next year, but it will have taught it some important lessons in public sentiment in the meantime.”