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Bebo, Inc.
Bebo Logo

"Blog Early Blog Often"[1]
Type of site Social network service
Registration Yes
Available language(s) English
Owner AOL
Created by Michael Birch
Xochi Birch
Launched January 2005
(relaunched July 2005)
Current status Active

Bebo, an acronym for "Blog early, blog often"[2], is a social networking website, founded in January 2005. It can be used in many countries including Ireland, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. A Polish[3] version was launched recently, which uses a different user database. There are plans for French[4] German[5] and other versions. Founded by husband and wife Michael[6] and Xochi Birch, Bebo had a major relaunch in July 2005.[7]

It was bought by AOL on March 13, 2008 for $850 m (£417 m).[8][9]



Bebo is similar to other social networking sites. Each profile 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 48 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, uploaded directly to Bebo's servers via VideoEgg or copied from a Bebo Media Content Provider's page.

Members 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 map feature enables members to see who has being viewing their profile. However, the viewer must be logged in while viewing and have their profile set to public in the map section, in order for this to be possible.

Privacy options

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 16 years are seen only by logged in users. Private profiles are seen only 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.

Bebo Music

On July 11, 2006, "Bebo Music" was launched (originally as Bebo bands).[10] This allows bands or solo artists to create a profile showcasing their music. The band profiles include a band member list which is similar to the friends list on a normal profile, a list of fans (fans who have added the band as though it were a friend), an area for tour dates, a blog, and a list of songs which have been uploaded for playing through Bebo's media player, or which may be added to other user's playlists. These songs can be grouped by the band into albums, along with cover-art. All band members can edit the content of the band profile.

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 pop culture.[11]

Bebo Mobile

On October 13, 2007, Bebo launched a mobile service[12] which allows users to receive text alerts and update their profile via their mobile phone. The service consists of a mobile site, text alerts for new comments and photo only uploads via mms. Originally available to only O2 Ireland and Orange UK customers, on March 19, 2008, Bebo launched a new mobile site which can be accessed by any mobile phone users on any network by pointing a web browser at[13]

Bebo mobile is often used as a spam tool by some users using bots.[citation needed]

Integration with instant messaging

Users can add their AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Skype and Windows Live Messenger user names to their Bebo profile. For Skype and Windows Live Messenger Bebo offers links to quickly chat or add that user in that program. The Windows Live Messenger links show up only in Internet Explorer by default, as it uses the 'msnim' protocol. They can be used in another web browser such as Firefox or Opera by masking the user agent as Internet Explorer and using a tool called the WLM Protocol Handler to handle the msnim protocol. Using the AIM links to contact someone opens up a Web AIM client. Bebo also offers a co-branded AIM downloadable client.

Bebo Open Media Platform

Announced on the November 13, 2007, Bebo 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 video content at the top of the profile. Many networks are signed up for the service, including CBS, Sky,, BBC and

Open application platform

On November 1, 2007, Bebo announced that it will join OpenSocial, 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 on November 13, 2007. This platform announcement turned out to be about the Bebo 'Open Media Platform' and not a true API. Bebo's Developers Platform was launched in early December 2007 with just over 50 applications.

Many members disliked the new applications created with the profile and asked bebo to remove them.[14] 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.[15]

New Zealand privacy breach

On May 21, 2008 some users in New Zealand were temporarily given full access to other users' accounts.[16] 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.[17] Bebo network engineers traced the error to a mis-configured proxy server in an Internet service provider (ISP) in New Zealand, which was later fixed. The ISP seemed to be messing 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.

Interstellar messaging

Bebo is collaborating with the RDF Media Group to send 500 messages to the planet Gliese 581c which is more than 20 light-years away but the nearest good candidate for a neighbouring extraterrestrial civilisation. Some have criticised this action because it might draw unwanted attention to Earth, provoking an attack or other inimical action.[18]


  1. ^ How to make 80 million friends and influence people at (accessed October 12, 2007)
  2. ^ "AOL buys Bebo for $850 m in cash". m-in-cash/. Retrieved on 2008-09-20. 
  3. ^ "Polish version". 
  4. ^ "French, version". 
  5. ^ "German version". 
  6. ^ "CEO Michael Birch Interview, March 2006". 
  7. ^ "About Michael Birch". About Bebo. Bebo. Retrieved on 2007-06-01. 
  8. ^ "AOL acquires Bebo social network". Retrieved on 2008-03-13. 
  9. ^ "AOL to ‘supercharge’ Bebo revenues". AOL to ‘supercharge’ Bebo revenues. Retrieved on 2008-03-13. 
  10. ^ Lunn, Shawn (2006-07-27). "Bebo strikes the right chord with the launch of Bebo Bands". IrishDev News (Irish Developer Network). Retrieved on 2007-06-01. 
  11. ^ "Group Surf". 
  12. ^ "Bebo in the News". 
  13. ^ Mobile site is now live at
  14. ^ "A group petitioning for the removal of Bebo Apps". 
  15. ^ "Poll on apps at the bebo official page". 
  16. ^ "Glitch opens Bebo users' private details to others". 
  17. ^ "Bebo's HUGE error". 
  18. ^ Can our TV signals be picked up on other planets?, BBC, 6 August 2008, 

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