HalloApp by former WhatsApp exec is an ad-free, private social network

HalloApp by Neeraj Arora, former WhatsApp Business global head, is promising a new kind of social network, which will let users connect with the family and friends that matter the most. All of this without the intrusion of ads, influencers, and the promise of privacy. Arora’s HalloApp is currently available on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store.

Arora in a Twitter thread has also tried to explain the rationale behind launching the app, and how it will be different from other social networks. “Social media today is a digital mall. Blinking red notifications. Infinite scrolling feeds. Ads. Bots. Likes. Followers. Influencers. Instead of building tools to bring people together, these tools have torn people apart,” he wrote on Twitter in a long thread, adding that “where are we supposed to have real conversations with real people, digitally: on social platforms or direct messaging apps?”

HalloApp also tries to tap into the privacy concerns, which has become a major issue in recent times. According to Arora, “It seems no matter where we look for privacy, someone is always ‘listening.’ This isn’t how trust is built, or real relationships are maintained.” The app has messaging in-built and the chat feature is end-to-end encrypted by default. This ensures that no one else can read conversations on the app, not even the creators of HalloApp.

He also wrote, “For years, I’ve felt this to be a problem. So much so, I stopped sharing important moments online. Algorithms made it impossible to reach those closest to me (they wouldn’t even see my posts).”

Check out Arora’s tweet below 

What is HalloApp, how is it different?

HalloApp is a social network with a focus on real friends. The idea is that the feed here is filled with “people and posts” the user would care about, rather than say influencers or articles. It is also doing away with the idea that algorithms will decide what people see on their feed, which is typically content that gets high engagement or content that a user tends to engage with more.

According to Arora, users will be able to scroll through “meaningful moments” and see what they wanted to see, rather than the algorithm dictating. It should be noted though that since HalloApp is relying on the contact book of your phone to show posts by those whom it determines to be your friends. This might not always be the most accurate way given not everyone in our phone’s address book is a meaningful contact.

The HalloApp is also ad-free, has no bots, likes or followers. Like and followers tend to be the core features on most social platforms, be it Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. The end-to-end encrypted chats are also an important feature of the app given its focus on privacy.

On the HalloApp website, Arora wrote, “Unlike legacy social networks, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right. HalloApp uses your phone address book to connect you with the real relationships in your life, and that’s it. Beyond that, we never collect, store, or use any personal information (we have no idea where you live, what you do for work, or how likely you are to consume a certain type of content). More importantly, we will never show you ads. Ever. Instead, we plan to eventually offer additional features at a small cost.”

The app will remain ad-free and it looks like this could be a paid social network eventually, where some features will come at an extra cost.

How does one sign up for HalloApp?

Signing up for HalloApp is a very simple process. You just need to enter your name and mobile number. A One Time Password (OTP) needs to be entered as well, which will be sent to the mobile number you use to login. One has to give access to contacts in order to find others on the platform.

The Home tab shows posts, photos, etc shared by friends. The Group tab lets users create group chats, while chats is for individual chats. You can invite friends to the platform. You can also comment on their posts or choose the reply option, which goes in individual chats.

There is no option to like or follow a post. Users can always block others on the platform. You cannot link the HalloApp account to other social media platforms either, which is expected given this is being touted as a privacy focused platform.

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