Google setting up Facebook competitor?

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Some Questions Can't Be Answered by Google

Rumours that Google is about to have another go at social media have been confirmed as true by a former Facebook CTO. The story began last week with a Tweet from Digg founder Kevin Rose, which read “huge rumor: Google to launch facebook competitor very soon ‘Google Me,’ very credible source.” Conspiracy theories were only exacerbated when the Tweet disappeared shortly after posting.

But Adam D’Angelo, a former Facebook executive, confirmed: “This is a real project. There are a large number of people working on it.”

Google’s attempts at launching social networking platforms have been patchy at best. Buzz never generated much buzz, only complaints about privacy, Wave fell a bit flat, Google Friend Connect was a poor relation of also-kinda-pointless MyBlogLog, and Orkut might have been big in Brazil, but it never set the rest of the world on fire. Would Google Me work where they’ve all (kinda) failed?

Mashable editor Pete Cashmore hopes so. Writing for CNN, he says:

Facebook’s mountain of personal data could also provide the backbone of an ad network many times more targeted than Google’s keyword-based advertising. If Facebook were to launch both a search engine and ad network, it could put a significant dent in Google’s more than $23 billion in annual revenue. But Google shouldn’t be the only party concerned about Facebook’s rapid ascent — the lack of a Facebook alternative is a threat to consumer choice, providing no escape route when things turn sour.

What Cashmore doesn’t spot when he’s talking about consumer choice is that there is a significant difference right now between Google and Facebook. It’s perfectly possible to use the internet for significant parts of your life, without touching Facebook. I know several sane and normal people who don’t even have accounts. It isn’t compulsory to play Farmville or Scrabble. Facebook is a cul-de-sac and you don’t have to go down it.

But try using the internet without touching Google. It’s not just search: docs, ads, analytics, Google follows you wherever you go. For the most part I love them and their free services and the cheque they send me every month for posting their ads… but they have quite enough information about me, thanks: if we want a balance to the huge amount of data that Facebook has on us already, that balance is not Google.

FWIW, if I were Google, I’d just offer a blank cheque for Twitter.

What do you think? Do we need a “competitor” for Facebook? Does it bother you that these companies have so much data on you? Leave us a comment.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mykl Roventine

6 Responses

  1. I have a strong feeling it’s not just a Facebook competitor either, I can think of something else that competition from Google may be appearing going by what’s been happening in Google land.

  2. Wow I never thought of Facebook with a search engine and a ad network. Do you really think they could actually cut into Googles business?

  3. Yes, they could, because so many people spend a lot of time on Facebook, but they don’t spend much time on Google, just search and then its off to a website.

    Facebook already has advertising.

  4. we dont have a facebook account only logged on to the site once or twice when a relative or friend has made an arse of themselves

  5. The trouble with anyone trying to copy they not have to copy but they have to be significantly better – there are loads of Facebook copies but quite frankly no one uses them because all their mates are on Facebook.

    Plus both Google (Checkout) and Microsoft (Bing) have tried buying punters and they’ve both found as soon as the financial incentives go the traffic does as well.

  6. I don’t do Facebook, Twitter or any type of social networking. I don’t have a television, I’m happy.


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