Is Vero The Next Instagram? Top Creators Hope Not Due To Founder's Past Ethics Violations

From unranked to #1 on the app store in just four days, Vero is the latest social media bandwagon that thousands of users are jumping on.

Originally launched in 2015 by billionaire businessman Ayman Hariri, son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Vero markets itself as an ad-free “social network that lets you be yourself.” Fed up with Snapchat's latest update and Instagram’s new algorithm, creators are turning to the new content sharing platform to see what the hype is all about.

In practice, Vero is similar to Instagram, but with a few notable key features. While the majority of content shared so far is photo and video, Vero also allows users to share links, music, movies, books, and places, which can all be distinguished into 'Collections.'

Vero also caters to many Instagram users' frustrations. Rather than posting content based on an algorithm, Vero shares posts in reverse-chronological order. Further, you can browse posts from your connections or by popular hashtags.

The 'Connections' feature is also a major draw to the app. You can distinguish and categorize followers based on real-life relationships, such as followers, acquaintances, friends, or close friends, and opt to share posts specifically with these groups.

The first 1,000,000 users to download the app get it for free. However, because there are no ads on the platform, Vero says its users will eventually be required to pay a small annual fee. CNBC reported the fee will be “a few dollars a year.”

With the sudden influx of users on the app, many are struggling with platform malfunctions, as well as overall confusion on how to navigate the site.

But it’s not Vero’s malfunctions that seem to be the major issue with the app. The core discrepancies have to do with the creator, Ayman Hariri, and his intentions with revamping his 2015 business venture.  

Up until 2017, Ayman Hariri ran a Saudi Arabian construction firm, Saudi Oger. According to Bloomberg, Saudi Oger was a billion-dollar company behind multiple huge projects. In September 2017, Bloomberg reported that Saudi Oger was shut down due to mismanagement, ditching thousands of unpaid migrant workers and leaving behind over three million dollars of debt.

Many have taken to Instagram expressing their concern with Vero due to these ethical violations, including powerhouse photographer Jordan Herschel. He informed his followers that Hariri’s misconduct in his previous business is behavior many may not want to support.

Influential Southern California photographer Eric Rubens echoed Herschel's sentiments, stating: “I’m happy new platforms are coming out, but I don’t think Vero is the right choice.”

Even with top creators protesting the app, its interface comes at an opportune time given Instagram's current algorithm backlash. Time will tell whether or not Vero will survive its hype, or its controversial past.