Bebo

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Bebo is a social networking website launched in July 2005. It is currently owned and operated by Criterion Capital Partners
Criterion Capital Partners
Criterion Capital Partners LLC, also known as simply Criterion, is an American global Internet company. It is best known for been the owners of Bebo, a social network, after buying it from Internet giants AOL for a reported $10 million.-Bebo:...

 after taking over from AOL
AOL
AOL Inc. is an American global Internet services and media company. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York. Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, it has franchised its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services...

 in June 2010.

The website's name is an acronym for Blog Early, Blog Often. Users receive a personal profile page where they can post blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

s, photograph
Photograph
A photograph is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of...

s, music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

, video
Video
Video is the technology of electronically capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion.- History :...

s and questionnaire
Questionnaire
A questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. Although they are often designed for statistical analysis of the responses, this is not always the case...

s to which other users may answer. Additionally, users may add others as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Bebo is very similar to other social networking sites, mainly Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

.

Michael Birch has said on the BBC Radio 4 programme "The Bottom Line" broadcast on 30th June 2011 that the acronym 'Blog Early, Blog Often' was a made up story to answer the question of what the name meant and is not actually true.

Bebo was founded by Michael Birch and his wife Xochi Birch in January 2005 at their home in San Francisco. It was acquired by AOL on March 13, 2008 for $850 million, with the Birch's combined 70% stake yielding a profit of $595 million from the deal. However the founders and executives of Bebo had stated that their end goal had been to sell out to a larger company, as they were well aware of the site's platform instabilities. Many suggested that AOL overpaid for Bebo, especially as advertising suffered a downturn due to the financial crisis. Furthermore AOL was unwilling to invest and continue developing Bebo so that it could remain competitive with Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

.

In April 2010, AOL announced it was planning to sell or shut down Bebo, with the sale being completed on June 17, 2010 to Criterion Capital Partners for an undisclosed sum which was reportedly under $10 million.

The BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 said that the AOL purchase of Bebo was "one of the worst deals ever made in the dotcom era", and it cost then-CEO of AOL Randy Falco
Randy Falco
Randy Falco, , is the Chief Executive Officer for Univision Communications Inc. since June 2011. He is charged with the task of capitalizing on the growth of the U.S. Latino population to steer the Spanish-language media company into the mainstream...

 his job.

Website


Each Bebo User receives a profile, which must include two specific modules, a comment section where other users can leave a message, and a list of the user's friends. Users can select from many more modules to add. By default, when an account is created the profile is private, which limits access to friends specifically added. The user may select the "Public Profile" option so as the profile will still be visible to any other members of a school they may have joined. Profiles may be personalized by a design template that is the background of the user's profile, known as a skin. Profiles may include quizzes which offer multiple choice, polls for their friends to vote in and comment on, photo albums which allows the user to upload an unlimited number of images with a maximum limit of 96 per album, blogs with a comments section, a list of bands of which the user is a fan, a list of groups that the user is a member of. A 'Video Box' may be added, either hot-linked from YouTube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

, uploaded directly to Bebo's servers via Motionbox or copied from a Bebo Media Content Provider's page.

Lifestream


Users can view the recent changes friends have made to their homepage from the 'Home' menu. These changes can include uploaded photos, updated flashboxes and newly added videos and friends. A friend's updates to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and other services can also be viewed, if those friends have linked those accounts to their Bebo profile. It has a number of privacy settings, where you can control what items from your profile appear on yours and your friends lifestream page, e.g. Photos, Your 'Sayings', Applications, Comments, etc. Users have complained that it is too crowded and 'ugly', but Bebo responded to this by updating the whole page and adding some new features, as well as improving the existing ones.

Bebo Mobile


Bebo launched the mobile version of the site in early 2006, making users access Bebo from a mobile device. In 2007 and 2010, the mobile site was updated to match the design and features of the full site.

In 2009, Bebo released a free application on the App Store, letting users visit Bebo on their iPhone
IPhone
The iPhone is a line of Internet and multimedia-enabled smartphones marketed by Apple Inc. The first iPhone was unveiled by Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, on January 9, 2007, and released on June 29, 2007...

s and iPod Touch
IPod Touch
The iPod Touch is a portable media player, personal digital assistant, handheld game console, and Wi-Fi mobile device designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The iPod Touch adds the multi-touch graphical user interface to the iPod line...

's under AOL, Bebo's former owners. In April 2011, the Bebo app was removed from the App Store and is currently in the stage of being redesigned and updated. The new version is scheduled for re-launch in late 2011.

It is reported that Bebo is looking into a BlackBerry
BlackBerry
BlackBerry is a line of mobile email and smartphone devices developed and designed by Canadian company Research In Motion since 1999.BlackBerry devices are smartphones, designed to function as personal digital assistants, portable media players, internet browsers, gaming devices, and much more...

 application and on other smartphones.

Bebo Authors


On February 22, 2007, Bebo Authors, also known as Bebo Books, was launched. On this section of the site, authors can upload chapters of their books and also get them reviewed with a certain module. Currently there is no module to display books on a profile page like there is for Bands and Groups.

Bebo Groups


On July 10, 2007, the "Group" module was added to pages. This enabled people to view groups which were previously joined to a school and were also viewable only to school members. Bebo also gave an option to convert existing Authors or Bands to Groups. This conversion takes up to 24 hours as the profile must be manually changed by a member of Bebo staff. Group pages give users an option to join things they find interesting. These groups can often be educational as well as associated with Big Brother UK 2008.

Bebo 3rd Party Login


Users can log in and/or make a Bebo account using their existing Facebook account (using a service called Facebook Connect), their AIM
AOL Instant Messenger
AOL Instant Messenger is an instant messaging and presence computer program which uses the proprietary OSCAR instant messaging protocol and the TOC protocol to allow registered users to communicate in real time. It was released by AOL in May 1997...

 (AOL Instant Messenger) account, and a number of other 3rd Party
3rd Party
3rd Party was a three-member dance-pop group that released one album in 1997. They are best known for their dance hit "Can U Feel It", and for the song "Waiting for Tonight", which was remade by Jennifer Lopez.- Background :...

 services. AIM is included because Bebo was bought by AOL
AOL
AOL Inc. is an American global Internet services and media company. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York. Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, it has franchised its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services...

 and they own AIM.

Bebo Chat


A new service called Bebo Chat, was launched with several other updates in 2011, which allows users to chat to other users. using a Meebo
Meebo
Meebo is a social platform connecting users with their friends across the web. It began in 2005 as a browser based instant messaging program which supported multiple IM services, including Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, ICQ, MySpaceIM, Facebook Chat, Google Talk, CafeMom and...

 chat plugin, but with Bebo branding. Users can also update their 'Saying' and show their availability status, as well as have access to other links to Bebo's pages, and special offers. It also provides a link for users to visit Bebo's fan page on Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

, where they can 'Like' their page and receive updates.

Open Media Platform


Announced on the November 13, 2007, Bebo's Open Media Platform is a platform for companies to distribute content to the Bebo community. Content providers can bring their media player to Bebo, and monetize the advertising within it. Each content provider has a specialised page designed for video which showcases any Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements, games and flash animations for broadcast...

 video content at the top of the profile. Many networks are signed up for the service, including CBS
CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

, Sky
Sky
The sky is the part of the atmosphere or outer space visible from the surface of any astronomical object. It is difficult to define precisely for several reasons. During daylight, the sky of Earth has the appearance of a pale blue surface because the air scatters the sunlight. The sky is sometimes...

, Ustream.tv, BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 and Last.fm
Last.fm
Last.fm is a music website, founded in the United Kingdom in 2002. It has claimed 30 million active users in March 2009. On 30 May 2007, CBS Interactive acquired Last.fm for UK£140m ....

.

Open application platform


Bebo joined OpenSocial
OpenSocial
OpenSocial is a set of common application programming interfaces for web-based social network applications, developed by Google along with MySpace and a number of other social networks.It was released November 1, 2007....

, a set of common APIs for building social applications across the web. It announced plans for a developers platform and said it will make a further platform announcement. Bebo's Open Application Platform was launched in early December 2007 with just over fifty applications and is now host to hundreds.

Many members disliked the new applications created with the profile and asked Bebo to remove them. One of the main complaints was it made it easy for application developers to provide a way for members to send invites to all their friends on Bebo and many applications encouraged users to do so. A poll was held on the Bebo developers page and had a majority against apps.

Privacy and security


Bebo offers three privacy levels: public, private and fully private. Public profiles can be seen by any user, except that profiles of users younger than sixteen years old are seen only by logged in users. Private profiles are seen only by their friends and members of any school or college they have joined. Fully private profiles are ones that have not joined any school and so only
their direct friends can view their profile. If a user chooses the 'Public' option, they can also set age restrictions on who can contact them. Age restrictions do not apply to direct friends. Bebo also allows a user to set their photos to private, so only friends can see them and can stop others from copying them too. Most users disliked Bebo's privacy settings and in feedback to Bebo have been told to update it to Facebook-like settings.

Inadvertent privacy breach by New Zealand ISP


On May 21, 2008 some users in New Zealand were temporarily given full access to other users' accounts. Various users logged in under their own account were switched over to the accounts of other users at random intervals, some people gaining access to over 20 different users' accounts. People were sometimes given access to addresses and phone numbers of other members, and some took advantage of the situation by uploading pornography onto other members' accounts. Bebo network engineers traced the error to a mis-configured proxy server in an Internet service provider
Internet service provider
An Internet service provider is a company that provides access to the Internet. Access ISPs directly connect customers to the Internet using copper wires, wireless or fiber-optic connections. Hosting ISPs lease server space for smaller businesses and host other people servers...

 (ISP) in New Zealand, which was later fixed. The ISP seemed to be interfering with its cache, thereby causing some of its customers to receive cached cookies and details from other users, likely because the ISP used dynamic IP addresses.

Possible Closure and Sale


On April 7, 2010, AOL announced that they were either going to sell the website, or shut it down. This was mainly due to the falling numbers of unique users; Bebo users were moving to the social giants Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 and to Twitter
Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

. AOL said that Bebo couldn't compete with other Social Networking sites at its current state, and that was the reason they were going to sell it and that they couldnt commit to taking on the massive task to keep Bebo in the social network 'race'. It has been reported that AOL's finances were struggling.

Criterion Capital Partners


On June 16, 2010, it was reported that AOL had sold Bebo to hedge fund operators Criterion Capital Partners. The purchase was confirmed on June 17, 2010.

Revamp


On February 17, 2011, Bebo launched a brand-new design. This consisted of a new more modern Header, a new more modernized Home page and a New Profile Layout Option. Further, users can now see who has visited their profiles (a feature which can be changed in settings).

In April, Bebo added a new Notification system, similar to Facebook's. It notifies users on new inbox messages, lifestream activity and more. This was a feature which was heavily asked for in feedback.

Usage


The website, at its height of popularity, overtook MySpace
MySpace
Myspace is a social networking service owned by Specific Media LLC and pop star Justin Timberlake. Myspace launched in August 2003 and is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. In August 2011, Myspace had 33.1 million unique U.S. visitors....

 to become the most widely used social networking website in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, eventually registering at least 10.7 million unique users. The website became mired in similar controversies in the UK as those which beset MySpace in the United States and other countries at the time.

See also

  • Online communities with more than 100 million users
  • Facebook Connect
  • AOL
    AOL
    AOL Inc. is an American global Internet services and media company. AOL is headquartered at 770 Broadway in New York. Founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation, it has franchised its services to companies in several nations around the world or set up international versions of its services...