Google is in the process of developing a new social network called Google Circles, the search engine announced at South by Southwest Interactive today.
It has long been rumoured that Google was working on one or a number of social networks and this announcement may be the result of the long mooted Google Me and Google Loop projects.
Rumours from December 2010 suggest that Google Circles will be a toolbar based social network and will be accessible from Google’s new universal services bar. The social network will apparently be designed to allow users to choose which circle of friends see specific updates.
Google has been mapping users social circles with their “Social Circle and Content” site since the company began including friend’s updates in search results last year. Google’s Social Circle and Content page allows users to
“Add new people to your social connections by adding them to the “Friends”, “Family”, or “Coworkers” group in your Google contacts. You can also follow your friends in Google Reader or Buzz, which also adds them to your social connections.”
According to Read Write Web, who broke the story “Tim O’Reilly, [and others] have also now confirmed that they’ve seen it and that it’s awesome. If what we’ve heard is correct, the service will offer photo, video and status message sharing. Everything users share on Circles will be shared only with the most appropriate circle of social contacts in their lives, not with all your contacts in bulk. ”
This will be Google’s third attempt to create a social network in two years. Google Buzz which was launched just over a year ago has failed to generate many users for the company; to boot Google was accused of breaching their users’ privacy when the social network launched. Only six months earlier in September 2009 Google released Wave, a social collaboration network which, due to a complicated private beta release, never reached a wide audience. Less than a year after Wave’s launch the social network was suspended and then handed over Apache.
It remains to be see if Google Circles’ friend-specific method of sharing will generate the critical mass required for a successful social network. Indeed, Google is not the first to launch such a system. Facebook already has a Friends’ List option with similar features.
The launch of the product may be soon, recently Google has redesigned its users Google Profile pages and updated its services bar across all Google applications.