Bebo comes back: mid-Noughties social network returns as hyperactive messaging app

Users’ old pictures will be revived, too

Bebo, the site that beat Facebook to the social networking crown but spectacularly lost it, has been re-created by its original founders, but in a very new form.

The app is available now and has much of the same feel as the old site — “customisation, creativity, and fun” as the company puts it — but will instead be a cartoon-y chat app rather than a full social network. It features hashtags (the site says “Hashtag anything; no seriously, anything”) and drawings and games.

Hashtags then send pictures called Bebojis to the other person — featuring your avatar, and sometimes theirs, doing the activity or thing described.

The app is out for Android and iOS.

“Everybody else is trying to be very “serious” about social networking, which feels a bit strange to us,” the company said in a post accompanying the launch. “The new Bebo is for people who don’t take life too seriously.”

Co-founder Michael Birch announced in summer last year that he had bought the company back for $1 million from AOL, which bought the company for $850 million in 2008. While the site was popular at the time, it quickly declined and was overtaken by Facebook as the social network of choice.

"We just bought back Bebo for $1m,” he tweeted at the time. “Can we actually re-invent it? Who knows, but will be fun trying …”

Pictures from old accounts will become available again from January 31. “We have good (and not so good) photo memories on the old Bebo”, the company said as it announced the new site.

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