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Power Balance in a New Social Networking Site

Ello is a new social networking service that aims at being used only for social purposes. The goal in creating this new service was to eliminate advertisements and be mainly an outlet for “people posting interesting stuff,” and thus “the message of buy, buy, buy is toned down” with Ello. The problem with larger social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, is that they often become more like businesses, always wanting to make a profit, making the experience less enjoyable for regular users. While these larger social networks include you, your friends, acquaintances, products, businesses, television shows, musical artists, etc., Ello aims at facilitating conversation between users, not product sales.

The article and new social network tie into Network Exchange Theory nicely. The larger social networks’ graphs contain nodes for people such as you, your friends, and businesses. Ello’s graph only contains nodes for individual people: you and your friends. Ello’s graph suggests that users have more power, because they are connected to fewer nodes. According to Network Exchange Theory, a triangular graph has no stable outcome of power. This means that there is no guarantee that any one node interacts or negotiates with both of the other nodes. In a graph of two connected nodes (that of Ello), exchanges typically occur. Thus, Ello’s graph results in more communication in the social network, while graphs such as those of Facebook and Twitter facilitate less communication. By eliminating the third node (businesses), Ello has created a stable system of power and is accomplishing its goal of facilitating more meaningful communication.

In the simple graphs below, each node represents smaller graphs of similar nodes (such as a graph of businesses and advertisers). This simplifies the representation of the social networks.

Facebook graph:

Facebook graph

Ello graph:

Ello graph




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September 2014