IT is the social network site that has been the butt of jokes about old tech.

Bebo overtook MySpace as the most popular social media site in the UK in 2008, and at its peak boasted 40 million users.

Once the darling of young teenagers and most popular in the UK and Ireland, offering a customisable designs with a focus on blogs, photos and questionnaires, it was sold in 2008 to US tech giant AOL for £650million.

Two years later as the rapid growth of Facebook crippled Bebo, AOL in effect closed it down, though users could still access the site.

Now its co-founder, who launched the platform in 2005 with his wife, Xochi Birch, has revealed plans to revamp the social network in a new attempt to take on the might of Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Birch,said the new-look site would focus on "real-time" interactions rather than the news feeds at the core of its rivals.

READ MORE: Meet the Bebo generation

According to the revived, it will be “a totally new site developed by the original founders”.

Those looking to get nostalgic may be disappointed to hear that “all the old accounts are long gone”, though Bebo says this is “probably for the better”.


The site adds that Donald Trump is “banned from Bebo before we’ve even launched”, following in the footsteps of a number of other social networks.

Mr Birch says his aim is to create a "refreshing break" from the misinformation-strewn social networks that have arisen over the past decade.

"It's an experiment, we'll see how it how it actually does. But we think it's a more exciting way of actually connecting," said the British entrepreneur.

He says he is creating the new-look site himself having taken up coding again for the first time in seven years during coronavirus lockdowns.

Even before the relaunch and despite the website being offline, Mr Birch said Bebo was attracting around three visits a second.

READ MORE: Bebo is voted top social network website

And he hopes that a mixture of curiosity and nostalgia will see users return.

"You're not going to log in and see the original Bebo as it was," he said.

"But what we want to do is go back a little bit to this idea of a profile. That you have an identity you sort of take pride in. That you can visit a profile and see things that aren't just the latest news articles being shared."

The internet entrepreneur paid £660,000 to buy back the social networking site in 2013.

But he faces a battle to differentiate Bebo from Facebook, which allows users to join from the age of 13.

Bebo's core user base had been younger teenagers, seen as a fickle market as the rival MySpace also discovered.

Mr Birch told the BBC: "When we first did Bebo, I spent 95% of my media time talking to journalists about privacy and bullying. And those issues are still obviously as relevant today. But I think one of the most damaging things has been the spread of misinformation and people sharing things similar to what their friends believe, which self-reinforces and doesn't allow for different perspectives to be put in front of people.

"We're not focusing on new sharing. But were we to go down that road and explore that, I think we'd have to think long and hard about how to avoid some of the pitfalls. For now, people may think it's a refreshing break for Bebo not to be another news feed of misinformation.

"I'm excited to have the opportunity to do Bebo again. It's very rare that you get to start something with a blank sheet of paper and rethink it from the ground up. You normally have so much legacy. In many ways it's harder to reboot a company than it is to start over.

"But because such a long period of time has elapsed, we're sort of getting closer to a start-over than a reboot."