What is Vero? Vero is a new social media app boasting an ad-free and “more authentic” user experience. The app takes its name from the Italian word for “truth.” The parent company of the app is Vero Labs, Inc.
The image- and video-focused app is similar to Instagram, drawing the attention of photographers, videographers, and social media influencers popular there. It’s also drawing fans because posts are displayed in chronological order, instead of being sorted by an algorithm like the one Instagram recently adopted.
Vero officially launched in 2015, according to Slate. But the app is gaining popularity over the past couple of weeks thanks to word of mouth among hardcore social media users. It’s now the second most popular app in Apple’s App Store and sits at the top of Google Play’s free apps chart.
The has been compared to Instagram and Facebook with many asserting that Vero is the best place for photographers, music lovers, and creatives in general.
What’s the controversy surrounding Vero?
The App was founded by Ayman Hariri in 2013 and was launched in 2015. Ayman Hariri previously served as deputy CEO and deputy chairman of Saudi Oger, a construction company founded by his father.
There were reports of Saudi Oger workers going unpaid and left stranded in cramped living quarters with little food money, water, or medical care, per Reuters. The Saudi Arabian government stepped in and the company shut down in 2017 due to “mismanagement,” according to Bloomberg.
A Vero spokesperson said Hariri left Saudi Oger in 2013 “to pursue other initiatives” and since then had no operational, management, or board oversight of the company and was not involved in any decision making.
Putting aside the CEO’s past, several people have pointed out that some of Vero’s employees appear to be Russian. Given Russia’s attempts to use social media to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, some are questioning whether it’s wise to trust a social media app with potential Russian ties.
“We are fortunate to work with a team of talented individuals from across the world. Like nearly every global technology company, that includes developers based in Russia, plus talent across the US, France, Germany, and Eastern Europe,” a spokesperson for Vero told TIME.
Others, meanwhile, have pointed out the lack of gender diversity on Vero’s team.
With these factors in mind, some people are already trying to delete their Vero accounts.
Aside from these, Vero has faced some criticism over the wording of its manifesto, in particular, the statement “Vero only collects the data we believe is necessary to provide users with a great experience and to ensure the security of their accounts.” Because this policy does not implicitly state that the app will not sell data to third parties some users fear that the need to monetise the app through data might prove too tempting.
Users have also complained about not being able to delete their accounts. While this was never the case, the option was hidden deep in the app’s settings.
Amid all these criticisms, Vero was recognized at the 2021 Webbys, being named as an Honoree in the Best Visual Design – Aesthetic Category.
In December 2020, Vero released its most significant update to date, VERO 2.0 which introduced new features including voice and video calls, game and app posts and bookmarks, and refinements to the UI.
In October 2021, Vero introduced their Desktop app (beta) with multiple post options and a re-sizable multi-column feed.