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Every couple of months, a new social network makes the rounds. The Vero app is the latest entrant to the crowded social media fold, but it looks like it could have some staying power.
What is Vero?
“Vero — True Social” is billed as an ad-free alternative to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. On its website, the company explains, “Vero is a social network for anyone who loves anything enough to share it—and wants control over who they share it with. Just like we do in real life.” Discovering new music, film, and literature is a core component of the app, as is control over who sees what you share. Another boon: no stupid algorithmic timelines deciding what you see.
Ready to give it a download? Here’s what you need to know before joining the app.
4 reasons why you should join Vero
If you’re fed up with ad-laden experiences on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook but still want to share photos and posts, Vero could be the network for you. The app itself is quite beautiful, with a teal-on-black color scheme, relatively straightforward navigation, and a surprising amount of content already populating the platform. Director Zack Snyder is on the app (and has more than 70,000 followers), as is the brand GQ. The app includes videos, images, and even products you can buy, ranging from bomber jackets to exclusive albums on vinyl. It all feels very cool, or fetch, or whatever the kids are saying these days.
There are some other reasons you might also find the Vero app appealing.
1. Straightforward sharing and notifications permissions
In the Vero app, you can classify friends and followers into one of four different categories: close friend, friend, acquaintance, and follower. Then, when you share posts, you can select which audience you’d like to share to. Each category is denoted by a colored icon. This is far more clear than sharing on Facebook but more granular and selective than Instagram.
You can also sort app notifications this way, allowing likes or comments from “anyone” or only from those you’ve actually met (“connections”).
2. It’s all-encompassing
Vero is a cross between Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify. You can watch videos, engage with brands, listen to music, and even buy things, on top of staying connected with friends. It sounds overwhelming, but the app organizes itself well, including automatically sorting posts from you and your friends into “collections” that you can browse or search through later.
3. Data collection
The app only collects your phone number, email address, and a name, which doesn’t necessarily have to be your legal name. According to its terms, the app doesn’t collect information about you beyond “number of visits to Vero and the general health of the platform.” The app will only share your information if you give it permission, if it’s legally required (for example, to comply with a criminal investigation), or if you make a purchase through the Vero app using its “Buy Now” or “Donate Now” options.
4. Community guidelines
Vero has explicit, easy-to-understand community guidelines that aren’t garbled among a bunch of legalese. Spam and bots aren’t allowed, you’re not allowed to impersonate others or post content you don’t own the rights to, and you’re not allowed to share others’ personal information without their express permission. Content that promotes “violence, self-harm, hatred, or cruelty towards people or animals” will be removed from the platform. If something is suspect, you can report a post in-app by tapping the “…” icon in the bottom right—similar to existing social networks.
4 downsides to Vero
The app, which first launched in 2015, may not be appealing to everyone for several reasons.
As with any new social network, having a lack of friends on the app can be an issue initially. In fact, this problem may be how you heard of the app—a friend posting on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter that they’re on Vero now. Word of mouth is one of the only legitimate ways to build a social network, but it takes time.
2. It’s not (necessarily) free
The app also isn’t free, if you aren’t among the first million users to download it. Vero plans to charge a “small annual fee” to those who weren’t among the first to join the service. It’s unclear at what point it will start charging users, or exactly how much it plans to charge. According to CNBC, it will only be a few dollars per year.
3. You don’t own your content
Vero promises not to sell your content to third parties or otherwise profit off of it. However, it does claim ownership of the content you post on the network. According to its terms of service, by using the Vero app, you grant it “a limited, royalty-free, sublicensable, transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, list information regarding, translate, distribute, syndicate, publicly perform, publicly display, make derivative works of, or otherwise use your User Content.” Yikes.
4. It may fail
Some feel that without ads, an app like this is doomed to fail. However, while we’ve seen all sorts of new social media apps rise and fall over the years (remember Peach?), Vero is coming at a time of heightened social media backlash. Every once in a while a new app comes along and survives; Snapchat made it, for example. In the wake of fake news and spam bots, Vero could be just the change many social media users are actually craving.
How to get started on Vero
First, download the app from the App Store or Google Play. Then, sign up by entering your name, email address, and entering a password. From there, you’ll need to enter your phone number (so friends and contacts can find you), and then the app will send you a text-based confirmation code. After that, you can upload a photo as your profile avatar and enter a brief, 150-character or less description to personalize your profile. Then, you can choose to give the Vero app access to your contacts or notto find friends. If you choose not to give the app permission to access your contacts, you can also search by name, email address, or phone number.
How to use Vero
After you’re all set up, from the app’s main screen, you can tap a plus sign to share a post. You can share a photo, link, a song you’re listening to, a movie, TV show, or book you’re digging, or a location. Once you and folks you follow start sharing, this screen acts as your main feed.
In the upper right-hand corner, you can navigate to other sections of the app. Tap the magnifying glass to search for users, content, or hashtags. (Here you can also browse popular hashtags and featured content.) The next icon takes you to your profile dashboard. This section houses links to your posts, your friend and follow requests, and the app’s settings menu. You can also edit your profile and avatar here.
The middle icon, which looks like folders, is where your collections live. Collections automatically aggregate your own posts and those of the people you follow by category (photos and videos, links, music, etc.). This could be useful if you’re looking for new music to listen to or want to find that story a friend posted the other week—something that’s nearly impossible to do on Facebook. Next to that icon at the top of the screen is the bell icon, which lists your notifications and activity in the app. And then in the far right, you can tap to chat with friends.
When you’re scrolling through your feed, you can tap a heart in the upper right of a post to like something. You can also tap the bottom left of a post to see or post comments.
Is Vero worth it?
Vero is a beta and has also been inundated with new users in the past few days. While we had no trouble downloading the app, it did get hung-up at times; it was slow to load some pages and some content. While mildly annoying, the design and general user experience made up for those minor occasional issues.
Overall the app seems promising. If you’re looking for a new way to connect with friends, share what you’re into, and even amass a following, Vero could be worth a shot.
Update 4:32pm CT, Feb. 28: Some Vero users are abandoning the app over concerns about the founder’s previous business dealings. They’re sharing the hashtag #DeleteVero in the hopes others follow suit.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.