AOL to buy Bebo

Though Bebo users probably won't notice much of a difference at first, AOL recently announced it would acquire the social-networking site very popular among teens, particularly British ones. The $850 million acquisition "reflects the high hopes that big media companies like Time Warner [AOL's parent] have for social networking, which they see as a potentially lucrative way to bring together online consumers, media owners and advertisers," the International Herald Tribune reports. This may be a sign of coming consolidation in the part of the social Web dominated by companies (there's plenty of grassroots Web too – see my item this week about mini-MySpaces and all that individuals can do on their own on the participatory Web). Speaking of which, here's Le Monde's social-networking world map, putting Bebo in the No. 1 spot in the UK and Europe, but with some qualification from Jupiter Research.

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