By now, you’ve probably heard of Vero.
Whether that’s due to some wily marketing or the appeal of the app itself, only time will tell. As with any social media upstart, illusions of grandeur abound—one site dubbed it “The ‘Facebook Killer'”—while their PR team spreads neatly chosen jargon—”A social network that lets you be yourself.”
While its been around for almost three years, the app has seen a recent crush of subscriptions. The suddenness of it all has confused many, but Vero executives point to a snowball effect of word-of-mouth efforts between creative communities. It also seems the sudden surge has caused it to crash in many regions, and a notice has been posted to their site about the “higher than normal load,” saying they are “working to resume normal service.”
Alongside its wider discovery has also come some disturbing revelations about its CEO, Ayman Hariri, and missed payments by his former firm, construction company Saudi Oger. This has already led some to call for a boycott of the app.
What’s been lost among the chatter, unfortunately, is a discussion of what exactly Vero is.
So, in the service of clearing a few things up, here’s what you need to know:
1. It’s An App
Like many platforms, it has an app. Unlike many others, that’s all it has. With no online connectivity, the only way to access it is by opening said app—like Snap.
2. It Ranks Intimacy
Like now-defunct Google Plus (at least I think it’s defunct?) Vero lets you sort your connections into categories of closeness: “friends”, “close friends”, “acquaintances,” and “followers,” allowing you to decide within which group you’d like to share each piece of content. This, their manifesto says, is more like real life, where “you can control who sees what,” which allows the user to “behave [on Vero] in a way that is more natural.”
3. It’s Subscription-Based
One of Vero’s primary claims to fame is being ad-free. They compensate for this by charging a “small annual” subscription fee. Currently, however, the first million users to sign up receive Vero for free for life. [Update: due to “Extraordinary Demand,” they’ve extended this offer.] They plan to release details on subscription pricing “soon.”
4. It’s Also A Store
Another way Vero makes money is by taking a cut of sales through it’s “Buy Now” feature. For a small (undisclosed) price, brands can pay for this button to be added to their page, while Vero receives a portion of the proceeds made through it. They waive this fee on charitable donations.
5. There’s No Algorithm
In keeping with their “this-social-media-platform-is-just-like-real-life” ethos, Vero employs no algorithms in sorting your feed. As they put it: “You see what has been shared with you, when it’s been shared with you.”
6. Chilling Out On Data Collection
In another nod at Facebook, Vero makes a point of stating that it will not indiscriminately reap your personal info to sell to marketers. Because it’s subscription-, rather than ad-based, “users are our customers, not the product we sell to advertisers.” This means they limit data collection to name, phone number, and site usage statistics. Further, if they do share any of this info, it will only be with “authorized third-party providers for them to administer your account and any services provided to you through Vero.”
So if all this sounds good to, get on the bandwagon and give it a try—though, if their Twitter is any indication, maybe give them a couple days to get their act together.