This was originally publishing on Linkedin here

elloBy now we’ve all heard of Ello, the upstart social network that some are hailing as the “anti Facebook” and some are dismissing out of hand for a variety of reasons, many of them legitimate.

While I remain skeptical about the role Ello can play in changing the social network landscape there was one point that was familiar to almost every new social network launch I can remember: There was no built in mechanism for discerning legitimate brand profiles from ones being created by random fans or other squatters.

That point has come into sharp relief (for me at least) when I read that The Atlantic is wondering just who it is that’s running an Ello account using their name. And I’m sure there are other instances of brands who have suddenly found they have an Ello profile without ever having set one up. (Update since I started writing this: They found out)

Just once I would like to see a social network launch with an official process in place for brand names to be registered, accompanied by one that allowed for fraudulent profiles to be easily disputed. Instead this is a problem that seems to crop up every time and take everyone by surprise. It would be nice to see one that stopped people from registering whatever they want.

Some have lauded Ello for being so unrestrictive, saying that freedom is welcome in an age when Facebook is under fire not only for its apparent advertising-driven development policy but also its insistence on real names and identities, something they say restricts the internet and free speech. All valid points.

But the reality is we’re not living in that “wild west” era of the social web any longer. We’re operating in a world where brands want to be part of the social network experience. We can debate the role they should or shouldn’t play, but the reality is where there’s an audience there will be companies looking to reach them, especially when it’s on a hip new network where they can not only be seen as incredibly hip to what’s new and shiny but maybe get a little press for doing so while they’re at it.

The next big social network looking to make a splash would be well-advised to have the question of how to deal with brand accounts, either real or impostors, before launch so situations like this don’t keep cropping up.