RealTime IT News

AOL Soups Up Social Network Bebo

AOL is rolling out a spate of new features today to spiff up social networking site Bebo, including a status update that will sync information from friends' profiles on other sites like Facebook and YouTube.

The Time Warner-owned Web portal is also integrating its instant messaging client with Bebo, which will mean that anyone with an AIM profile will be able to access Bebo with the same credentials they use to log in to IM.

The Lifestream feature introduces to Bebo the same concept as FriendFeed, a service that enables people to broadcast their activities from a variety of social sites. In addition to Facebook and YouTube, Bebo's Lifestream integrates with MySpace, Twitter, Delicious and Flickr.

The new features are a milestone in AOL's integration of Bebo, which it purchased for the hefty sum of $850 million in March. The social network now forms the cornerstone of AOL's People Network, but remains significantly behind heavyweights Facebook and MySpace in active users.

With the migration of AIM profiles to Bebo, AOL could significantly expand its user base, though it remains unclear how much of a bump in traffic the integration will deliver to Bebo.

Bebo has also launched a timeline feature called LifeStory, which collects the information that Bebo users upload to the site, such as photos, tweets and events, and displays them in a snazzy horizontal timeline.

In a nod to the privacy concerns that inevitably arise when social sites start talking about automatically publishing personal data, Bebo allows users to opt out of the service.

"LifeStory is optional, so you can hide it, but we think it's a great way to share the important moments in your life with all your friends," Bebo's Alex Brown wrote in a blog post.

Also coming to Bebo is a tiered set of privacy controls, called Social Slider, where users can set filters that control how much information their friends can see about them.

Separately, AOL today launched a new site for classified ads. AOL Classifieds is the product of a joint effort with Oodle, a network of classified listings pulled from more than 80,000 sites.

Listings are free on the new site, and AOL is trying to sweeten the deal by extending an ad's reach by giving it visibility across Oodle's partner sites.