Nerds Mourn Passing of Social Network that Isn't Facebook and Isn't Even Dead

What is a "Bebo?" Is it a) a new Internet nickname for Justin Bieber (my first guess) or b) a social network you have never heard of as a result of its stint as an AOL property that was sold at an $840 million loss? According to a lot of unexpected weeping on Twitter, it's the second of these two things. The site unceremoniously went dark and left everybody (including the site's original co-founder) confused about what had happened for several hours before a seemingly drunk company spokesman got around to clarifying that the actual problem was, ahem, "a technical clusterfuck."

TechCrunch picked up on the Twitter mourning and at first ran this obituary:

Largely forgotten social network Bebo may have shut down today.

Bebo users certainly seem to think that this is the end. The Bebo website is down, and as a result there's a steady stream of sad tweets using the "#bebo" and "#ripbebo" hashtags. And if it's a false alarm, the company isn't doing much to combat that impression - the most recent posts on both the Bebo and Team Bebo Twitter accounts date from November.

And then, a little later, the following hilarious update:

Apparently all the online grieving was over a false alarm. A Bebo spokesperson just emailed me to say that the site was down due to "a technical clusterfuck" - it's not actually dead. He also says that the site still has a niche audience, largely in the United Kingdom, and it will be launching more products soon.

The $840 million loss put Bebo in such dismal company as the late Friendster, and Justin Timberlake's MySpace, on which Rupert Murdoch took a bath of approximately half a billion bucks in June 2011 after having "screwed up in every way possible."

[TechCrunch/ Image via Shutterstock]