Ello makes a bold promise for an ad-free social network, but omits key details


Ello, a would-be Facebook rival, scored a big marketing coup on Thursday with its announcement that it is now a “public benefit corporation” whose charter forbids it from selling user data or paid advertising. For now, though, the pledge means little from a legal standpoint.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Ello and its promise of a non-intrusive social network became the flavor of the week in tech circles last month. On Thursday the company announced a $5.5 million funding round and, more significantly, a new corporate structure.

That structure means the duties of Ello’s directors will now extend beyond shareholders to also take account of a “public benefit” set out its in charter. While other feel-good companies like Etsy and Warby Parker have also embraced a public benefit mission, they did so through a certificate process — similar to the one used for “Fair Trade” — that is symbolically important but does not have…

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