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Google Developing Social Network to Rival Facebook

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Google is in discussions with several online game makers, similar to those currently working with Facebook. The exact nature of where the games would go is unknown, but sources are claiming that it will be part of a larger push into social networking from Google, and it may be part of a new Google endeavor rumored to be called “Google Me”.

In an interview with WSJ earlier this week, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt refused to confirm a social-networking service is in the works, and when asked if the unconfirmed service would rival Facebook, Schmidt said “the world doesn’t need a copy of the same thing.” Facebook recently surpassed Google as the most visited website in the US, making the two websites direct competitors and chief rivals for advertising dollars and users.

Of the negotiations underway, the biggest is with Zynga, makers of the ultra popular Facebook game, “Farmville”, which has more than 60 million active users each month. In 2009, the social gaming industry pulled in $700 million. Although the deal is not yet done, Schmidt did say “you can expect a partnership with Zynga.”

Currently, social games on the Facebook page pay 30-percent of the virtual-goods sold in the game, giving Google a fair amount of room to negotiate a more favorable deal for the game makers.