Bebo Launches bChat: Matching Up Randoms For Video Chat

Social network Bebo has just launched a new video chat service called bChat, powered by vChatter, to enhance user experience by matching up its 117 million global members for random chat.

Social network Bebo has just launched a new video chat service called bChat, powered by vChatter, to enhance user experience by matching up its 117 million global members for random chat. Think of it as a cleaner, safer version of Chatroulette that matches up and introduces Bebo users based on a variety of preferences including geography, age and interests.

Kevin Bachus, Bebo’s chief product producer, says, “Video chat with vChatter brings the human element to online communication and we think bChat will be a great opportunity for Bebo members to develop friendships with other members they haven’t had a chance to meet.” I wondered if there was demand for this sort of service, which matches up randoms on Bebo, or if people were more interested in using the site to communicate with their friends. Kevin Bachus told me via email that, “While most of our users do indeed turn to Bebo to reconnect with real-life friends, many of them do use it to make new friends who share common interests. Many of our users are extremely creative and expressive. Others are inquisitive by nature and seek out profiles of people who are similar to them. Our users are constantly looking for ways to enhance their socializing, and we think bChat can become a daily extension of those activities.”

I wanted to know how Bebo and vChatter are keeping bChat clean and wholesome, as opposed to sites like Chatroulette, which have been known to get a little uncomfortable and inappropriate. Rebecca Reeve at vChatter let me know that they use a multi-pronged approach to safety. Their approach includes “Transparency of the “real” social network identity, user policing with “Report bad stuff” button, behind the scenes user segmentation (i.e. teens only talk to teens), and moderation using eyeballs supported by tools.”

bChat has literally been live for only a couple of days, so Bebo and vChatter were unable to provide specific numbers or statistics just yet. However, Bachus told me that the site is already trending above their expectations for bChat. “Comments on our user forums are extremely positive, and members of the Bebo team have all been participating in bChat sessions this morning with users who appear to be thrilled with the feature.”

Are you a Bebo user who has checked out the site’s new bChat? Let us know what you think of it in the comments!