Google is reportedly preparing a new social networking offering to challenge FacebookA top former executive at Facebook says Google (GOOG) is preparing a new social networking offering to challenge Facebook, the dominant social site with 500 million users.

Google's new effort, reportedly known as Google Me, comes months after the company's last social networking attempt, called Buzz, ran into a brick wall of opposition over privacy issues.

Rumored to Be Real

On Sunday, Digg founder Kevin Rose tweeted that he'd heard a "huge rumor" that Google is preparing to challenge Facebook. (Rose later said he was asked to take the tweet down.) Now, former Facebook Chief Technology Officer Adam D'Angelo, who runs question-and-answer startup Quora, has added further fuel to the fire with the following comments, posted on his site.
Here is what I've pieced together from some reliable sources:
  • This is not a rumor. This is a real project. There are a large number of people working on it. I am completely confident about this.
  • They realized that Buzz wasn't enough and that they need to build out a full, first-class social network. They are modeling it off of Facebook.
  • Unlike previous attempts (before Buzz at least), this is a high-priority project within Google.
  • They had assumed that Facebook's growth would slow as it grew, and that Facebook wouldn't be able to have too much leverage over them, but then it just didn't stop, and now they are really scared.
Several observers suggested that the move could involve adding new features to Google profiles, which would allow users to display interests and other social information. If the rumor is true, it suggests that Google refuses to cede the social networking sphere to Facebook, which lacks a serious competitor.

Google has declined to comment.

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