bebo: “I’m not dead, i’m just eh, having a break”

bebo, you blew it

Yesterday i noticed my twitter timeline was flooded with ‘RIP bebo’ tweets and lots of people throwing in their 2 cents on how & why Bebo died. I did some searches and a quick scan of all major tech sites – nothing. Within minutes, Bebo’s wikipedia page was edited stating this ‘fact’: “The website closed on 30th January 2012″…

bebo closed

I Immediately took a screenshot because i knew this wasn’t happening and it was a great example of how rumours turn in to facts online. The problem was, up until the wikipedia page was edited, nobody had any sources. That didn’t stop the rumour spreading. Then, once the wikipedia page had been edited, it became a ‘source’ which added further credibility to the rumour. It was the only source.

Michael Birch, co-founder of the site pretty much confirmed it was all a big evil publicity stunt by tweeting “Am super sad that Bebo has actually gone. Some very fun times with very cool people.” He followed that up a few minutes later with ” Hold the press (too late for that), Bebo should be coming back in a matter of hours”.

It would appear to me, this was a deliberate act by Bebo to generate hype. I don’t buy in to the fact that a social network of bebo’s size could go down and stay down for such a long period of time without even a simple ‘sorry, we’re offline temporarily’ message. Yes it may be a ‘technical clusterfuck‘ but Bebo have twitter accounts, Birch is still involved and the first message that came from any of them was Birch’s ‘confirmation’ that the site was closed. It doesn’t add up, unless of course it was all a publicity stunt in which case it has worked.

My guess is bebo will see a massive spike in activity when it comes back online, not because people warm to it’s old charm, but because they’re grabbing all their old photos and messages before it shuts down for good.

Eerie Prediction

Back in February 2008, i posted this blog post about bebo. Pretty critical, gloomy and pessimistic about bebo’s future…

“No doubt revenue is up and traffic is flying, but it’s short term gain for long term sacrafice. They are driving people like me away from bebo.”

A month later, the site sold to AOL for $850m. From then on it continued to free-fall to it’s current status as a former giant of social networking gone bad. A lesson in how not to monetise a social network and how big bucks mean nothing if you don’t understand what users want…

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