To make sure our data is not being harvested we might — gulp — have to face paying for social media use. So what are the options? Vero began as a competitor to Instagram in 2015, gaining traction with users who liked posts appearing in their news feed chronologically rather than ordered by an algorithm. Earlier this year, numbers began a steep rise from 200,000 to more than four million, with many of these switching from Instagram.
Founder Ayman Hariri has said a paid model will make it clear to customers that they, not advertisers, are in charge. As the billionaire son of Lebanon’s late former prime minister, he may have more scope to experiment with this than most. But in the prevailing climate, ethical consumers demand good behaviour as well as good business plans. As Vero’s numbers rose, allegations surfaced of mistreated workers at Saudi Oger, the construction company that was the source of Hariri’s wealth, although the 39-year-old has said that he had left the company before the incidents in question.
Idka, based in Sweden, is another subscription-based option. Barely launched when the Cambridge Analytica story broke, it has seen a rush of interest over the past few weeks. Goran Wagstrom, chief executive, says: “Suddenly we are getting visitors from different countries, particularly the US.” He says customers spend time carefully reading the company’s terms and conditions, perusing Idka’s promise of absolute data privacy.
The Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco, which had about 4,500 Facebook likes, is among those that have now switched to Idka. “Continuing to participate in Facebook... condones their unethical behaviour,” says founder Todd Hosfelt.