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AOL introduces social networking aggregator

AOL is launching a platform that adds social networking services like Facebook, Bebo, Twitter and Gmail to any website, broadcasting a user's activities in real-time to their friends.

AOL claims that Socialthing for Websites adds social networking functionality to third party sites and enables publishers to attract new users and keep them engaged wherever they are on the web.

Socialthing creates a toolbar along the bottom of a website that brings both group chat and private chat to the site in the form of pop-up boxes. It also comprises a content stream that shows the latest articles and comments, as well as a personal stream of activities from other websites.

AOL hopes to tap in to the growing popularity of real-time updates, as pioneered by Twitter, and replicated by Facebook's revamped newsfeed.

After logging into Socialthing users will be able to join public conversations in the site's chat rooms and communicate directly with any other user who is also logged into Socialthing on that site.

Publishers are also able to insert their own content into the user's feed, and create conversations around it.

It features 'unified sign-on', meaning users do not have to create a new user ID and password to access the service, users will automatically share their experiences on the website with their social network, and will be able to use instant messaging and chat services.

Socialthing is an open platform, giving third party-developers the ability to create apps and distribute them to a wide audience.

AOL's publishing unit MediaGlow is in the process of rolling out Socialthing across its network of 74 sites.

Socialthing is already functional on country music site TheBoot.

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