Google is to launch a social network aimed directly at competing with fast-growing rival Facebook.
According to the Financial Times, the network will be called Google+ and will at first be available by invitation only.
Early reaction to the news has seen analysts suggest that Google will find it hard to poach many of Facebook’s near-700 million users.
“I think it’s likely to be more successful than past social initiatives like Buzz, but I think it will be a small success and it’s not likely to be a threat to Facebook anytime soon,” Josh Bernoff, social media analyst with Forrester Research told the newspaper.
“It has some interesting twists on the social networking model but is far from a Facebook-killer,” Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, wrote in a blog post. “If you’re already happy using Facebook, you may have no more incentive to use Google’s new social network than someone already happy using Google has to switch over to Bing,” he said.
Google appears to be playing on recent privacy concerns in order to “sell” its social network. Facebook has recently been at the centre of a series of disputes over the way in which it handles and makes public user information.
Google has promised that Google+ will give users “more ways to stay private or go public”.
It also said it would include a feature called “Circles” that would make it easier for users to limit information they post to smaller groups of friends and contacts, rather than automatically making it available to everyone in their network. Facebook offers similar controls with its “Groups”.
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