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The Return of Orkut

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By Elton Gomes

In the wake of the enormous data scandal that hit Facebook earlier this year, several people have lost trust in the social media giant and deleted their Facebook profiles. The #DeleteFacebook campaign has found several takers, including several famous actors and other eminent personalities.

Even as Facebook struggles to restore its image, Orkut Buyukkokten—founder of yesteryear social media site Orkut—launched a new social network called Hello in India.

Say hi to Hello

According to the Financial Express, Hello aims to bring people with common interests together. The network does this to “create positive, meaningful, authentic connections and sustained social engagement.”

Orkut Buyukkokten told Wion that Hello began beta testing in Brazil in 2016. In the Indian market, roughly 35,000 users were part of the beta testing. Buyukkokten added, “Orkut was huge in India and I’m delighted to say hello to India once again.”

Orkut Buyukkokten@orkut

I’m so excited to be coming to ! Win tickets to a special event with me: https://bit.ly/2Gve0vL 

 Buyukkokten reportedly claimed that no data will be shared with third-party applications, which will likely be welcome news to many potential users. What is more, Buyukkokten told PTI  that his company “does not have to sell user data to get revenues”.

“When a user signs up, they are asked about five things that they are passionate about and then get recommendations that are non-intrusive. We also ensure that every advertiser has a profile on hello (for greater accountability),” Buyukkokten told the news website.

Buyukkokten said that he aims to tap into a “sense of togetherness” that is visible in our daily lives.

But what makes Hello different from other social media websites? According to a report by the Indian Express, Hello will show users relevant posts from friends, which will be based on common interests or hobbies.

According to Digit, users can sign up by providing their phone number or email ID, along with a password. Every user’s profile and everything he/she posts will reportedly remain public, and can be viewed by anyone who follows that user’s persona.

The Hello social network app allows users to select at least five hobbies or “personas” as the company calls them. Users can select personas such as Anime Fan, Animal Lover, Artist, Baseball fan, Car Buff, Chef, and others, all of which displayed on the app.

Considering that a large part of the Indian population has a penchant for cricket and Hindi movies, personas such as Cricket and Bollywood have been also reportedly been added to the app. Other personas on the app include, Entrepreneur, Fashion Enthusiast, Fitness Buff, Foodie, Music Fan, Philosopher, Spiritualist, and Techie.

Buyukkokten told the Indian Express: “One of the great things about hello is that you can switch your personas at any time.” He added that personas have been limited to five, as this  would lead users to end up selecting only those interests that they truly care about.

After launching services in Brazil and India, the company now plans to take its services to the US, as well as France, and Germany, according to media reports.

An alternative to Facebook?

Orkut Buyukkokten was an engineer at Google when he started the social network website Orkut in 2004. By the time it shut down in 2014, Orkut had grown into an online community of 300 million people.

What Hello aims to do is emphasise on authentic connections. The company told Digit, “Facebook serves a very different purpose. Facebook is made for broadcasting updates to your friends and family. It’s also great for communication one on one. It’s also a publishing machine. It’s not for meeting people.”

In an interview with Huffington Post, Buyukkokten said that most of Hello’s features are hidden, and that it is up to the user to discover them. This could might create curiosity among potential users, who many sign up to explore the new social network’s features and usability.

The launch of Orkut’s Hello could likely not have come at a more opportune time. As Facebook continues to grapple with the fallout of its data scandal, desperately attempting to restore users’s trust, the novelty and possibilities of a new social network might just lure several users to Hello.

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