Orkut Büyükkökten, the founder of Orkut is back with Hello, a new social network. (Photographer: Vijay Sartape/BloombergQuint) 

The Man Behind Orkut Says His ‘Hello’ Platform Doesn’t Sell User Data

In 2004, one of the world’s most popular social networks, Orkut, was founded by a former Google employee named Orkut Büyükkökten. Later that year, a Harvard University student named Mark Zuckerberg launched ‘the Facebook’, which over the course of a year became ubiquitous in Ivy League universities and was eventually called Facebook.com.

Orkut was shut down by Google in 2014, but in its heyday, the network had hit 300 million users around the world. Facebook took five years to achieve that feat. At a time when the #DeleteFacebook movement is gaining traction worldwide in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Orkut has made a comeback by launching a new social network in India. Say hello to “Hello”.

“Hello.com is a spiritual successor of Orkut.com,” Büyükkökten told BloombergQuint. “The most important thing about Orkut was communities, because they brought people together around topics and things that interested them and provided a safe place for people to exchange ideas and share genuine passions and feelings. We have built the entire ‘Hello’ experience around communities and passions and see it as Orkut 2.0.”

Orkut has decided to make a comeback when Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, has been questioned by U.S. congressmen and senators about its policies and data collection and usage practices. That came after the Cambridge Analytica data leak which impacted nearly 87 million users, including Zuckerberg himself.

“People have lost trust in social networks and the main reason is social media services today don’t put the users first. They put advertisers, brands, third parties, shareholders before the users,” Büyükkökten said. “They are also not transparent about practices. The privacy policy and terms of services are more like black boxes. How many users actually read them?”

Büyükkökten said users need to be educated about these things and user consent is imperative in such situations when data is shared by such platforms. “On Hello, we do not share data with third parties. We have our own registration and login and so the data doesn’t follow you anywhere,”he said. “You don’t need to sell user data in order to be profitable or make money.”

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