Social Media App Vero Blows Up, But Success Creates Problems
Frustrated with social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook that display posts based on an algorithm, users are swarming to a new, paid service that promises to show social items in reverse chronological order.
Vero has actually been around for a while, but recently began a strong push for new users by promising that the first million to sign up would have the service's subscription fee waived for life.
It has been wildly successful -- maybe too much so. Once you download the app from the iOS or Android app stores, you may or may not be able to sign up, post or approve friend requests. My first item, praising the 2017 movie "Baby Driver", is stuck in "Post Failed" limbo.
According to Mashable, Vero has been around since 2015, languishing at the bottom of download lists on both app stores. But its current push has it perched at the top of the iTunes App Store.
Vero was started by Ayman Hariri, a billionaire who's also the son of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. He wanted to create a social network that didn't use advertising as payment, instead requiring users to pay to play. After all, when a service is free and monetized by ads, its users are the product, not the customer.
You can post photos, links, talk about music or movies or books, and check in at a place. It's similar to Instagram, completely with filters and photo editing, but with more structure for posts.
In addition to being ad-free, Vero also shows posts in reverse chronological order. Users on Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook also owns, complain constantly about its algorithmic approach to posts, which don't let you see all the items posted by friends. On Facebook, you can temporarily view posts with "Newest First", but it still won't show you everything and soon reverts back to the algorithm's choice.
Instagram doesn't even give you a temporary option for reverse chronological order.
One other welcome change -- users are encouraged to used their real names. They don't have to, but the default is that your real name as entered in the signup process becomes your user name. You can change it if you like later.
Editor's Update: In response to service issues, a Feb. 26 post from Vero said: "We are scaling our servers to meet the increasing demand. We appreciate your continued patience while we work to restore service."
In addition to technical troubles, Vero is now facing criticism and a #DeleteVero movement. Critics point to co-founder Ayman Hariri's previous experience as CEO of a Saudi construction company.
USA Today reports that, "Backlash against Vero is connected to Hariri's time as an executive of defunct construction company Saudi Oger. The company shut down due to mismanagement, with at least $3.5 billion in debt and thousands of unpaid workers, Bloomberg reported last year."
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Image credit: Product by Vero; iStock/Artist's concept.