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Google denies building Facebook ‘rival’

Facebook dominates social networking. No rival comes close. So when rumors started circulating in July that Google may start its own social network, a lot of ears perked up. Since then, the search giant has continually refused to confirm its plans, but its deteriorating relationship with Facebook continues to make headlines.

Today at the Monaco Media Forum, Hugo Barra, Google’s head of mobile product development, reiterated that the company is not creating a Facebook clone, reports Reuters.¬†“We’re not working on a social network platform that’s just going to be another social network platform,” Barra said in answer to a question.¬†“We do think that social is an ingredient for success for any app going forward, search and advertising being probably the best two examples that I would mention. So that’s how we’re thinking about the problem.”

In September, CEO Eric Schmidt laid out a similar vision, saying that Google plans to add layers of social networking to its many websites and services. Instead of an all-out Facebook rival, his statements indicated that the search company plans to introduce social networking add-ons that will integrate with its core products, including Gmail and YouTube. For example, YouTube would share information in real-time about what videos are being watched by the people on your friend-list.

So what is Google doing? It’s hard to say, but all of the components for a social networking site are within Google’s services. The problem Schmidt and Co. have always had is when it tries to glue its social services together. Earlier this year, the company launched Buzz, a Twitter-like add-on to Gmail, but has been met with low usage and a lot of complaints. Google is social, but it can’t figure out how to network.

What do you think Google’s social network will look like? Does the company have what it takes to rival Facebook?