Social app Vero (download for Android and iOS) isn't anywhere nearly as powerful as Facebook (download for Android and iOS) or Instagram (download for Android and iOS). Launched in 2015 and with just over four million users, it doesn't have the other sites' name recognition, user base or many revenue streams.
Vero may be small, but this David to Facebook's Goliath has something in its arsenal that the social media giant lacks -- veritas. Vero (from verus) means truth in Latin. And with a mission of no ads, no data-mining and no algorithms, its aim is "to bring back the authenticity of social media platforms," according to its founder and CEO Ayman Hariri.
But will it succeed when many before it have not? Download.com spoke to Hariri about building the next big social network and why each and every one of us should move over.
What makes Vero a great Facebook alternative?
Not only is Vero ad-free, algorithm-free and does not mine your data, but at its heart Vero is an authentic social network. It allows you to connect and hear from only those with whom you want to connect and from whom you want to hear.
We looked at other social networks and realized that they weren't sustainable. We started Vero as a reaction to what social networks were becoming. I think the current crisis at Facebook has shone a light on the fact that privacy was in our DNA all along. We felt that a business model that did not monetize our users' data was central to offering the experience we wanted them to have -- where they're in complete control of how, what and when they share -- the only ethical model for a social network.
What makes Vero better than other privacy-focused Facebook alternatives like Snapchat (download for Android and iOS), MeWe (download for (Android and iOS), and Ello (download for Android and iOS)?
A) Vero isn't strategizing against other platforms -- but building an alternative. What makes us unique is that we offer an alternative ad-free social media experience that more closely resembles your real-life interactions and social networks. Vero, meaning "truth" in Latin, has an aim to bring back the authenticity of social media platforms -- replacing the standard integration of paid advertisements and posts with a monthly subscription.
B) Vero also lets you easily share many types of posts, such as music, movies, TV shows, books, links and places.
C) All posts that were shared with you can easily be found using our built-in search.
How do you attract users to Vero if their friends and family members aren't on it?
New users are joining Vero every day and are either connecting with their friends or discovering incredible people to follow. Like any social app, though, it takes time to hit a critical mass. We're in this for the long haul.
Vero has announced that it will be switching over to a subscription-based model. When will this happen, and how much will it cost?
If you join Vero right now it is free and will remain free for life. A subscription model allows us to be a sustainable business, one where our users are our customers.
We believe in the democratization of these types of apps, so the cost will be reasonable. Though we are not currently disclosing the price, we can tell you that it should be no more than the price of a couple cups of coffee per year. We intend to turn on subscription in the first half of 2019.
How has Vero monetized so far?
Vero has been almost completely self-funded. We have kept away from regular funding methods as we wanted to stay true to our mission of providing the alternative social network whose sole purpose is to serve its users' best interest.
It's in most developers' interests to keep users on their apps. Why does Vero encourage its users to take breaks?
Vero encourages breaks from social media because we refuse to have addiction be a measure of success. Our revenue isn't based on advertising, so we don't have any incentive to contribute to digital addiction.
People are waking up to the real problems posed by digital addiction. More and more platforms are including these tools to let users see how much time they're spending on certain apps. We put control in the hands of our users, so they can monitor how they use our service and how often. At Vero, we're proud to be ahead of the curve, providing users this information early on.
Have more people turned to Vero in the wake of the recent Facebook scandals?
We definitely see a lot of users sign up to Vero who are tired of the status quo. Vero offers users a fresh start that brings them back to being social online.
Users who join Vero are mostly looking to connect with like-minded people who can share their passions without worrying about their data being mined, their behavior analyzed or being force-fed ads.
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