New York-based AOL LLC is hoping to leverage its position on the social media platform with the US$850 million acquisition of social media network, Bebo.

AOL already owns instant messenger applications AIM and ICQ, but said that buying Bebo will grant it a “premier position in the fast growing world of social media” with a network of approximately 80 million unique users.

The Bebo social media network combines community, self-expression and entertainment to allow users to consume, create, and share content.

The attraction to Bebo is the fast-expanding global user base, the monetization opportunities presented by the Web platform, and the company’s vision of “a truly social Web,” said AOL’s chairman and CEO Randy Falco. “This positions us to offer advertisers even greater reach and marketers significant insights into the desires and needs of consumers,” he said.

Bebo president Joanna Shields said the companies’ shared vision to leverage the power of social networks makes the acquisition a “natural progression”.

Shields will continue to run Bebo and will report to AOL’s president and chief operating officer Ron Grant.