Facebook paved the way for the rise of social networks, but now there's a new platform that could steal its thunder.
Credit: Ello.com

Facebook paved the way for the rise of social networks, but now there's a new platform that could steal its thunder. Cue Ello, the social media startup that's generating buzz for attracting 35,000 sign ups by the hour, according to CNET.

So what's so special about Ello? Unlike Facebook, the site is meant to be completely ad-free now and in the future. Users won't have to pay a cent, although the social media platform may offer upgrades that can be purchased.

While the site will collect anonymous data about your location, time spent visiting Ello, and other factors, users are given the chance to opt out of even this amount of information sharing. The creators say they won't sell your data to third-parties, hence the "The Anti-Facebook" nickname given to the new site.

"Virtually every other social network is run by advertisers. Behind the scenes they employ armies of ad salesmen and data miners to record every move you make. Data about you is then auctioned off to advertisers and data brokers," the Ello site says. "You're the product that's being bought and sold."

Ello's manifesto reads, "We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate—but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life."

It's an admirable goal, but do you need another social network in your life? Even if you sign up for Ello (at the moment, users must request an invitation to join the network), you're not likely to give up on other big names, like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and yes, Facebook.

A recent study in PLOS One found that using different types of media at the same time might affect your brain. Researchers asked 75 people about all the types of media they used, including text messaging, web surfing, and other computer-based applications. Higher media-multitasking was associated with smaller gray matter volumes in the part of the brain that controls cognition and emotions. The study can't prove cause and effect, and it's not clear if this is really all that bad for you. (But admit it, it doesn't sound that great either, and past research suggests multitasking doesn't actually make you more productive.)

Our advice? Keep an eye on total screen time, and don't just mindlessly add yet another social distraction to your digital day.