AOL ups the ante with release of Socialthing
LONDON - AOL has released its newest weapon in its battle against Facebook and is looking beyond Bebo with the rollout of social networking aggregator Socialthing website.
The company has been trying to gain a leg up on Facebook in the realm of social networking since its acquisition of Bebo last year for $850m.
Bebo is popular in the UK but eleswhere has scarcely a fraction of the number of users signing on to Facebook everyday.
AOL recently tested the Socialthing platform on its country music website The Boot and is now rolling out the service across its 75 MediaGlow websites, which include TMZ, Engadget and the newly launched Love.com. AOL said its MediaGlow properties account for over 181m web users worldwide.
Socialthing focuses on "activity streams" like those found on the redesigned Facebook, or Twitter, and integrates the concept on top of a third party website.
For example, on The Boot, users were able to sign on to a special Socialthing toolbar which appeared at the bottom of the website, by using their AOL identification.
Once signed in, Socialthing tabs appear on the peripherals of the website, showing updates from other users who were accessing The Boot and from friends using other social networking sites, such as Flickr or Twitter.
The updates tab combines public and private "streams" and will show when someone makes a comment on an article on The Boot and will also show when a friend posts a message on Twitter.
The Socialthing users' actions are also broadcast to other users and friends on other social network sites, with privacy controls integrated into the Socialthing toolbar, as is AOL's Instant Messenger chat service.
The platform was also developed to enable third party developers to build their applications on top of Socialthing, helping them increase distribution to site owners and their audience.
For example, Socialthing lets publishers insert their own content such as news articles or breaking news directly into the "stream", creating direct engagement with users on the site.
Publishers can also turn their content into conversations by offering signed-in users the ability to enter public chatrooms and launch an Instant Messaging window directly from the site.
The rollout follows similar open platform changes at Facebook, which announced yesterday it would to open up its users "streams" and information to developers, who can now create applications around user updates.
AOL said it plans to introduce Socialthing to other websites outside its MediaGlow hierarchy and will offer the service for free in exchange for user data that can be used to implement targeted content.
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