Hot Instagram alternative – but will it stick around?
AP Technology Writer
NEW YORK — Instagram users fed up with the service becoming more and more like Facebook are flocking to a hot new app called Vero.
Vero lets you share photos and video just like Instagram, plus it lets you talk about music, movies or books you like — or hate. Though Vero has been around since 2015, it surged to popularity in recent days, thanks in part to sudden, word-of-mouth interest from the cosplay community — comic book fans who like to dress up as characters. That interest then spread to other online groups.
There’s also a growing frustration with Instagram, with a flood of ads, dearth of privacy options and a recent end to the chronological ordering of posts. Instagram users have been posting screenshots of Vero, asking their friends to join.
But don’t ring Instagram’s death knells just yet: Hot new apps pop up and fizzle by the dozen, so the odds are stacked against Vero. Remember Ello? Peach? Thought so.
“Young people are super fickle and nothing has caught on in the way that Snapchat or Instagram has,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an eMarketer analyst who specializes in social media.
Here’s a look at Vero, how it’s become so hot — and whether it can last:
From 2015 until this past week, Vero was little known with fewer than 200,000 users, according to CEO Ayman Hariri. Then cosplay members started posting photos of elaborate costumes and makeup. Photographers, tattoo artists and others followed. As of Thursday, Vero was approaching 3 million users, Hariri said.
Vero has gotten so popular in recent days that some users have reported widespread outages and error messages. Vero says it’s working to keep up in response “a large wave of new users.”
HOW IT WORKS
Vero works on Apple or Android mobile devices and is free — at least for now. The company eventually wants to charge a subscription fee.
There are no ads, and the service promises “no data mining. Ever.” That means it won’t try to sell you stuff based on your interests and habits, as revealed through your posts. Of course, Facebook started out without ads and “data mining,” and it’s now one of the top internet advertising companies. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and started showing ads there the following year.
Instagram’s privacy settings are all-or-nothing: You either make everything available to everyone on Instagram, or make everything visible only to approved friends. Vero lets you set the privacy level of individual posts. If you don’t want something available to all users, you can choose just close friends, friends or acquaintances.
Another big difference: Vero shows friends’ posts in chronological order rather than tailored to your perceived tastes, as determined by software. Instagram got rid of chronological presentations in 2016, a change that hasn’t gone well with many users.