AOL is testing a service that allows people to share, rate and leave comments about videos.
The social networking feature, called
UnCut Video, lets people upload short videos directly from camcorders and webcams. The service will eventually be compatible with mobile devices, the company says.
, an outside contractor, will scan the site periodically and delete offensive or illegal postings.
Recent UnCut Video offerings include footage of a frisky, one-eyed dog, people cliff diving in Mexico and a martial arts demonstration. AOL, which began testing the feature yesterday, will formally launch it in about two months.
Beneath all of the goofiness is a serious business purpose. The New York-based media giant is trying to breathe new life into the struggling AOL to make it more like social networking sites. These destinations, which allow people to share pictures and videos with one another, are among the most popular on the Internet.
UnCut Video is like other video-sharing services such as
YouTube, which has been criticized for not doing enough to protect copyrighted material. It also buttresses AOL's plans to add more video content to its site to attract users. Another new feature, AIM Pages, puts AOL in competition with
MySpace because it makes it easier for users to share content.
"I am seeing an increasing trend of the big guys simply copying what successful startups are doing," says Michael Arrington of the blog
TechCrunch, who reported on the feature earlier. "The only large company that is even experimenting with unproven concepts at this point is
with its various Live.com ideas. I'd like to see more experimenting at the big company level."
Last month, YouTube said it received $8 million in Series B funding from Sequoia Capital. YouTube now is planning to let people to send clips directly from devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants, according to the
MySpace was acquired by
for $580 million last year. Another social networking site, Facebook, also is reportedly being shopped to large Internet and media companies.
All of these services are derived from the instant-messaging system that AOL invented in 1989.
Despite its improved advertising sales, AOL remains a drag on Time Warner because of the continued defection of dial-up subscribers. The company sold
a 5% stake in AOL for $1 billion last year in the hopes of improving the results at the business.
Shares of Time Warner, also the owner of
magazine, last traded at $17.62.