Bebo used to be one of the biggest social networks in the UK, rising to 10 million unique users after launching in 2005. In 2008, Bebo was sold to AOL $US850 million.
But Bebo quickly became uncool. Users deserted the platform for rivals like Facebook and Twitter and things continued to spiral downward from there.
AOL eventually sold the site to Criterion Partners in 2010. In 2013, the site went bankrupt, before being bought by its original founders for $US1 million.
Now, Bebo is back. But in a slightly different form as a messaging app. The site’s CEO sent out an email on Wednesday announcing a relaunch of its app next week. We took a look at the beta to see what the legendary social networking site looks like now.
Bebo is now an app that lets you chat with your friends using a customisable cartoon character. The social networking features are gone.
It looks like the people behind the current incarnation of Bebo are making sure that it appeals to the people who made the original site popular: Teenagers. The Bebo app lets users create a cartoon avatar, which is then featured in different hashtag illustrations. Above you can see the “#twerk” illustration, which the app’s tutorial suggests you use.
The app also tells users to slap each other. The tutorial run-through resulted in this image showing my avatar giving a black eye to a girl because I’d slapped her in the face.
Bebo is packed with features that may or may not appeal to teenagers. There’s a version of “Draw Something” that lets you scribble illustrations and send them to your friends:
There’s also a rip-off of popular viral app Flappy Bird hidden in the chat window. But you can’t play it because the developers forgot to add the bird to it. You just die every time. Here’s what it’s meant to look like:
Bebo’s developers aren’t too keen on user privacy, either. Every hashtag you use is monitored. If you use one that doesn’t come with an illustration (only a handful of them have them) then the app’s developers get to see what it was. Bebo claims that helps them develop illustrations for the most-used hashtags, but it also lets developers see snippets of messages sent in private between users.
Bebo also has a catchy new slogan to go with its relaunch: