Do we need a new social network? The big three - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - already take up huge swathes of time and, while they’re useful for keeping in touch with people, also provide so much fodder for white-hot rage that they might not be that healthy to use. Is it positive or constructive in any way to be wound up into a coil of seething, spluttering anger so frequently by the sheer idiocy of people? Probably not, but there are also lots of good jokes on there, so it’s all swings and roundabouts.
Vero (which means ‘truth’) is a new social media network that claims to be ‘true social’, and hundreds of thousands of people have signed up. Should you? Let’s take a look at it…
It’s free for some, but then you’ll pay
The first million accounts are free, but everyone who joins after that first million will have to pay a small, as-yet-undisclosed annual fee.
Is that good or bad? It seems like a pretty good idea - if anyone’s on the fence about signing up, a financial ticking clock is quite the incentive to get it done. But, once those accounts are gone, will you want to hand over hard-earned cash for a social network? It depends - they’re gambling on hella-desirable early adopters getting in first and everyone else wanting to join to see what they’re up to.
There are no ads
Yep. No adverts at all, unlike any of the other big dogs and the vast majority of the internet in general.
Is that good or bad? If it all works out financially, it’s great, at least for the user. Presumably the financial model is based on enough people joining and paying for membership that those million free accounts are balanced out, otherwise their operating costs won’t be covered at all. It’s a big, big gamble, but could pay off handsomely.
There are no algorithms
Remember the old days of social networks where everything was presented chronologically? That’s Vero’s USP, giving you everything in the order it happened, rather than the weird algorithmically-presented offerings of other networks, where it’s easy to like a picture someone posted six days ago and feel creepy, or log in and be greeted with live bantz from 13 hours ago.
Is that good or bad? Jury’s out really. It depends what you want. For a casual user, an algorithmically-generated ‘best-of’ experience can be preferable to a real time one. But if you’re really into commute bantz, lunchtime bantz, telly bantz or other types of bantz, a chronological timeline is the end of the rainbow.
It differentiates between connections and follows
Vero offers two classes of linking with people. Connecting goes both ways, like being friends on Facebook, while following is more like, er, following people on Twitter. Connect with people you’re buds with, follow people you’re a fan of.
Is that good or bad? It seems like a pretty good system, although it feels like, if someone tried to connect with you and you’d rather not connect with them, there should be an option to just let them follow you rather than an outright no. And it’s not immediately clear how, as easily happens on Twitter a lot, one graduates from following to connecting.
There are tiered privacy levels
If putting something on Vero, you can choose who it’s shown to - close friends, friends or acquaintances (you assign people these statuses when connecting with them). That way you can feel free to, say, post about how much you hate your job without worrying that your boss will see it, as long as you’ve assigned her an appropriately distant status,
Is that good or bad? Really good. Everyone’s had that thing where you start writing a tweet then think of all the people who’ll see it that you’d rather didn’t see it. It seems like it would be really easy to get it wrong and upset lots of people, but then that’s the internet for you.
It’s quite familiar
Vero uses all the stuff we know and love from other networks - hashtags, @-ing people, linking out, photo filters, verified users - meaning anyone who’s spent any time on any social network at all should find the whole thing easy as pie.
Is that good or bad? Hmm. It’s nice that it isn’t difficult, but the overwhelming familiarity makes it feel a bit redundant. On the other hand, cherry-picking the best features from the many options available makes a lot of sense.
They need your phone number
Every account has to be linked to a phone number, at the beginning at least. You can log in from another phone later, but to get up and running you need to give ‘em your digits.
Is that good or bad? It’s definitely a good thing. Setting up a fake Twitter account to bully people takes seconds, as you register with only an email address, and it’s easy as anything to set up endless email addresses. Going by phone number makes it that little bit harder to be a complete bastard hiding behind a veil of anonymity, and that’s unquestionably a good thing.
Just like Instagram initially was, Vero is only usable on phones. Suck it, desktops!
Is that good or bad? It doesn’t change anything for a toilet browser, but if you’re prone to Facebooking from work, you’re out of luck - it’s a lot harder to pretend you’re doing something constructive while tapping on your phone endlessly.
It's impressively multimedia
Discuss films and hey, there are the trailers. Think your friend would like a song? There it is, embedded in your post straight from Apple Music. Big reader? You can keep track of what your friends are reading.
Is that good or bad? It’s good, but possibly casts its net too wide - is it trying to be YouTube, Soundcloud and Goodreads as well as Twitter and Facebook?
There have been loads of tech issues
What’s the verdict then? It’s too early to tell really - so much depends on whether the right people, in the right quantities, get involved quickly. It could be the new Twitter, it could be the new Ello (remember Ello? No you don’t). It might complement your current social media life, it might completely replace it.
Or, and this seems like it could be the most likely, it’ll slowly become known for one particular thing. Like, the book part of it’ll really take off and it’ll become a book community or something.
In conclusion, maybe give it a go and see what happens?