We Are Social's Monday Mashup #21


AOL to sell or shut Bebo
AOL have announced their intention to sell or shut down social networking site Bebo in the forthcoming tax year. Bebo cost AOL a hefty US$850m when they bought them two years ago, and looked set to overtake a flagging MySpace, but both ended up being overtaken and overwhelmed by Facebook; most crucially, Bebo has struggled to gain any sort of foothold in the United States. Nevertheless, Bebo still remains relatively popular in the UK – although no longer top dog, it’s still the UK’s fourth most popular social site, ahead of fifth-placed MySpace. With talk of it being a tax write-off, if Bebo is to be closed, it will be interesting to see where its UK and Ireland users end up flocking to; alternatively, if it is to kept alive, will it end up becoming a regional niche network like Orkut in Brazil or Tuenti in Spain?

Twitter make a stake for the mainstream
While Bebo flounders, Twitter has been going from strength to strength and has been making a more concerted pitch to expand into the mainstream of late. There are rumours of an overhauled redesign, with a purported mission to make the site more elegant and attractive for newer users. Additionally, they’ve acquired the rights to Tweetie, one of the most popular and usable paid-for Twitter apps for iPhone, with the intention of rebranding it ‘Twitter for iPhone’. Perhaps surprisingly, there has not been until now an official Twitter app for iPhone, but Tweetie’s acquisition brings it level with MySpace and Facebook’s free apps.

Foursquare clamps down on cheats
Foursquare is rapidly emerging as one of the most popular social location services – yet up until now it’s been remarkably easy to cheat at it. However now Foursquare have announced a “cheater code” to clamp down on nefarious activity. All check-ins are now double-checked via GPS before Foursquare will accept them – a hit in usability terms if you’re in an area with poor coverage, but the tradeoff is a better quality of data. And this is timely given Foursquare’s rapidly-growing commercial deals, which rely on dependable data to avoid fraud; today the FT announced a hookup with Foursquare, with check- ins around several leading business schools allowing students access to premium subscriptions.

UTweet – useless or brilliant?
Uniqlo’s new UTweet application was much the talk of social media marketing world this week; given a username or hashtag, it would create a funky animated visualisations of the conversations about the respective user or topic. As delightful as it was to watch, there was also a counter-reaction that it was not particularly engaging, conversational or useful. Certainly, Uniqlo aren’t using their userbase to help shape or improve their brand (compare and contrast, say, the ongoing Nokia Designed by Community project), they’ve certainly created a bit of quick, pleasant light-hearted buzz about the brand. But you can only keep successful on this path if you’re continually inventive and creative, and even one slip could risk you ending up with a jaded or bored reaction.

#debill becomes #deact
The Digital Economy Act was signed into law last week despite a wide-ranging and strong consensus against the bill (as charted by Simon in his post last week). The issues raised remain though, and one of the bill’s leading opponents, Tom Watson MP, is now busy building a list of digital pledges to campaign for election on and is inviting suggestions and refinements over on uservoice.