Social media site Bebo is coming back - here's everything we know so far

By Sarah Wilson
Friday, 29th January 2021, 4:26 pm
Updated Friday, 29th January 2021, 4:43 pm
Bebo will be competing with a host of social media networks that didn't exist when it first launched.
Bebo will be competing with a host of social media networks that didn't exist when it first launched.

Bebo, a social network popular in the early 00s is set to return to the internet in February 2021 as a brand new network.

The social networking site has returned to its original web address, with a message that reads “Bebo is coming back in February 2021 as a brand new social network” beneath a banner reading “coming soon”.

So what can we expect from the revamped version - and will our old data and pictures be on the site?

What is Bebo?

Bebo was founded in 2005 by Grant Denholm and Xochi Birch as a social network which quickly became popular, eventually surpassing MySpace’s success in the late 00s.

Every user was given a personal profile page on which they could upload photos, blog posts, music and questionnaires. Like Facebook, users added friends and could interact with them via the platform.

Some of Bebo’s defining features included customisable “skins” to serve as the background to profiles, as well as the ability to award a limited number of “luv” (represented by love hearts) to other users on the platform.

One feature that caused much teenage angst among the platform’s young users was the “top 16” ranking system which entailed users placing their friends in order of preference on their profile.

Why did Bebo close down?

While Bebo was at one stage the most popular social networking site in the UK, the advent of Facebook spelled the beginning of the end for the platform.

In March 2008, the platform was sold to AOL for $850m; a purchase which was later described by the BBC as "one of the worst deals ever made in the dotcom era", costing the then-CEO of AOL his job.

The purchase turned out to be a mistake as Bebo’s popularity began to dive once Facebook took the world by storm.

New users to Bebo began dwindling, with existing users abandoning the platform and migrating over to Facebook as an alternative.

After changing hands several times over the following years, Bebo was finally closed down in 2019.

Why is it returning - and what will it be like?

The current information on why Bebo is being revived is limited, with the current web address offering few details.

It leads users to a landing page which reads “bebo, coming soon”.

Beneath, it reads: “Bebo is coming back in February 2021 as a brand new social network. We are currently in private beta. If you've been invited please enter the password below”.

It’s unknown whether developers will retain some of the old features of the original site, but there are certain to be some changes when the platform re-launches, given the array of competition bebo is now facing in the age of Tiktok, Snapchat and Instagram.

Can I get my old profile and photos back?

Bebo nostalgics will be disappointed - or perhaps relieved - to learn that old profiles, data and photos once hosted on the platform no longer exist.

“PLEASE NOTE: All old data and photos were lost many years ago and are not recoverable. Sorry” reads the current message on the web address.

Regrettably, even internet archive the Wayback machine does not appear to hold captures of the previous bebo sites or old profiles, meaning old users will simply have to rely on their memories for the toe-curlingly embarrassing content once posted on the site.