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Confirmed: AOL will acquire Socialthing

Start-up social aggregator, which competes with the more-buzzed-about FriendFeed, will become part of AOL's People Networks division.

AOL's People Networks division, formed when the company acquired Bebo, has picked up a new friend: Socialthing, a Boulder, Colo.-based start-up that aggregates social feeds from sites like Digg, Twitter, and Flickr.

The acquisition has not yet been completed, but is close to it.

No financial details have yet been released regarding the acquisition of Socialthing, which falls into the same niche as FriendFeed and is still in private beta. The company is a new one; it emerged out of Boulder's TechStars incubator and had its official launch party at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March--where the company instantly gained word-of-mouth buzz when the soiree was still raging past 3 a.m. The buy was first reported early this month by TechCrunch's Erick Schonfeld, who speculated that it was "likely a small purchase."

The People Networks division at AOL is headed by Joanna Shields, who was CEO of Bebo when it was acquired. Also encompassed in the group are AOL's two instant-messaging services, AIM and ICQ, and acquisitions Goowy and Yedda.

Getting bought was probably a good move for Socialthing. In recent months, Facebook has started to institute feed activity from other sites in its members' news feeds, creating a potential threat to standalone aggregator services.