New app takes a crack at undermining Instagram’s influence
By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer
Vero, which comes from the Italian word for “truth,” is a reasonably new app that has been gaining attention lately for appealing to the annoyed social media elite.
Many users are frustrated that the various platforms haven’t listened to their demands for the return of a chronological timeline—instead opting for an algorithm-determined timeline. The current algorithm is engagement-based, where the number of likes, comments, video views, etc., affect the likelihood of your post being seen. In its original news release regarding the changes, Instagram claimed “the order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting, and the timeliness of the post.” All the posts would still be there, just in a different order. Unfortunately for users with few followers, this has meant that only about 10 per cent of their posts are being seen. Furthermore, because the algorithm is not only based on engagement from followers, but also engagement from the posting user, users that have an economic interest in interacting with their followers (i.e. companies promoting products) are dominating feeds.
Vero’s biggest appeal, then, comes from its chronological and ad-free feed. According to its publicly displayed manifesto, the app will not “curate it, manipulate it, insert advertising in it, or hold back posts” and users will not have to pay to “boost [their] post” or “reach [their] audience.” A subscription-based model makes this possible. Users pay an annual fee, a sum which is supposed to only be the cost of a few cups of coffee.
The app has very similar functions to Instagram and Facebook. Users can post images and videos with the same editing features as its predecessor. Unlike Instagram, you can post music suggestions or even books you’ve been reading. It also features avenues to sell products and to make charitable donations, but those are kept away from the main feed. I would even say that the interface is far more appealing than either Instagram’s or Facebook’s. The black and teal colour scheme and minimalist look give the app a modern aesthetic.
I’m skeptical regarding the longevity of Vero’s model. The creators claim that the subscription model will keep ads off feeds, but I think we’ve all seen how quickly that can change once an app becomes popular enough—I’m looking at you, Snapchat! Furthermore, although the app is allowing new users to join the service for free right now, there’s no word on when that will end, meaning eventually users will have to pay to reach their audience, which ironically negates the premise of their product.
I don’t believe Instagram will see a huge drop in current user engagement—most people, after all, will not want to rebuild an already-established following— but Vero perhaps presents an avenue towards more content-driven platforms… that is, if it can survive a recent scandal regarding one of its owners allegedly being involved in some human rights violations..