Advantages Talk to friends for free and share
Disadvantages Could still be more to do and safety
To be honest I never really did get into the MySpace phenomenon, yes I did sign-up but I could never have a website replace my mobile phone as the key to my social life and my weekend plannings. Whilst there were a lot of things that made contacting people easier on MySpace, there was a lack of privacy and lets face it -- not every single person I wanted to contact was a member of the site. Editing and adding things to your very own profile page could be a little fun, but it was all a fad that I soon got over and was something I was pushed into doing by a female friend in the first place.Is there something a little femine about making your own personal web page to share photos and gossip? Well, I think there definitly was a stigma that meant boys couldn't really do it but with Bebo all that has began to disappear. I remember another fad was Piczo, where many teenagers would go to make quite frankly god awful web sites with even worse colour schemes to match, and basically just exchange plans for the weekend. All that has changed now though, as Bebo offers the structure of MySpace but the freedom of Piczo. Is this really going to be the match made in internet networking heaven?
All these social networking sites, as they are known, have been around for quite some time now. I remember a year or possibly long ago I would get email invite from friends, usually the younger friends in the years below me (the female ones) saying to be their friends on Bebo, Facebook, the lot of them. It's something I wouldn't really have thought twice about, and there always has been that weird thing about the internet with you not really knowing who you're talking to. Many people probably think that's a new message, but I think a lot of people had that bashed into them from an early age and knew not to do anything stupid. Obviously there is the odd few that still meet people from the internet sex chat rooms, but you don't really hear about it on the news that much.So why have these networking sites taken off so hugely just lately? I guess it's just the word of mouth getting around, and these sites have suddenly became more popular and 'cooler'. MySpace is still the leading networking site on the whole internet, that's why the guy that ran it is so rich, I believe it's more an American thing but it has taken the rest of the world by storm. MySpace is a bit of an older brother to Bebo, wiser and has a more adult audiance. I think Bebo is the UK's MySpace really, because it is constantly Bebo you are hearing about in the news. You may have heard about those two girls that got murdered by their mother in Cambridgeshire, and it was well documented how their Bebo's were getting flooded with RIP messages from their friends. There was also a case where a girl went missing for about 24 hours in Cambridge, and the first place they checked was her Bebo -- where they found she was pretending to be years older than she actually is -- most likely for the male attention the internet offers. There is something entertaining about finding people you hear about on the news on Bebo, and it's so easy to do so. Which I guess leads me on to the bulk of this review, which is not the background of the site but the features of the site itself.
FRONT PAGEGoing on to Bebo.com it's a very plain site, filled with mainly advertisements and a few featured profiles. As if the guy who owns the place isn't making enough money already, no wonder people start up these sort of sites, sadly I must have missed that train -- and of course the training course to make sites so technical. I don't actually remember the sign-up process, I think I probably did it without even knowing, but it would not be unlike these sort of sites to make the sign-up process as easy as possible because of course they live off the new members that they attract. With a sign in bar across the top it's all very easy to get into, and that just about wraps it up.
YOUR PROFILEHaving your own page on the internet, I guess for many people it will be their first time making something that is their own on the internet, and by how simple Bebo makes it they probably think they could do anything. Of course they're wrong, but let them think that. The address of your page is bebo.com/whatever-you-want-that-is-avaliable. Think very carefully about what you have, because once you decide you're stuck with it.
Adding friends is easy and can be done either by looking through peoples profiles and finding people you know, or can be done via adding people who you have registered to your email address e.g. MSN Messenger contacts. They then have the choice of adding you or declining you, just as when someone adds you as a friend you have those options and a 'decide later' option. When you are signed-up in, your personal home page has a link where you can see who your pending friends are. As I have started to mention there, your logged in home page is very different to that of the front page. It includes features like seeing all the latest changes and updates on your friends profiles, as well as a map where you can see where in the world people have been visiting your profile from. Interesting stuff.You don't have to be a HTML (internet coding) whizzkid to make your Bebo profile colourful and personalised to you, because changing the 'skin' (background) of your profile is all done at the click of a button. There are a lot of sites out there as well that offer things you can add on to your Bebo, it's just finding the good ones and not visiting the crap ones.
Pretty much anything can be put on your Bebo, allowing you to share and say whatever you must, and of course all the basic info can be on there too. You get told how many people have visited your page, and you will wonder where some of those clicks are coming from I'm sure. If you get worried about just who maybe visiting your page, you do have the option to set your Bebo to private so only friends can visit you.There is also a display of when you were last active on Bebo, where it be 29 minutes, 4 hours or 8 days. One of the most interesting things about Bebo is 'Sharing the Luv' where each day you are permitted to give one of your friends a love heart and it is displayed on your profile how many you have received in total. I hear that apparently there used to be no limit to how many hearts you could give out in a day, but people went a bit crazy with them.
If messaging people and customising the messages you send with smileys and bold writing is something you'd rather just do on a private messaging service, then at least on Bebo you have the ability to share your pictures in separate albums. It's very easy to update photos and you can do five at a time, and it's good fun when you get picture comments. You also have a 'Flashbox' where you can put YouTube videos or upload videos of your own or just put some of Bebo's videos on your page. The only annoying thing is when you put YT videos on there you find that they do eventually get deleted for one reason or another, probably some piracy policy.Quizzes allow you to see just how well people know you, and the Whiteboard allows people to leave you drawings. If you're lucky enough to have 16 or more friends, you can arrange them into a 'top 16' and you may have friends bitching at you to put them higher. There is always the option of private messaging on Bebo as well so it has been pretty much created with EVERYONE in mind.
CONCLUSIONBebo is for everyone, although it is a bit weird when you see some of the older members of Bebo using the site. In fact one of the teachers at my old secondary school got Bebo and now apparently he's in trouble. The less I say about that the better I guess, as this is Ciao not a water fountain. Bebo is my favourite networking site on the internet, although it can get slightly boring now and again -- at the end of the day it is just a fad that will wear out.
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