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Friday, September 22, 2023

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Google Preparing To Launch Social "Circles" — Or Maybe Not

There’s lots of buzzing and posting this morning based on a couple of tweets from Tim O’Reilly and Steve Case. They state that “Google Circles” (which is “awesome”) is going to launch “possibly today.” (See updates below.)

ReadWriteWeb has a lengthy discussion of the reportedly impending product launch. It’s based largely on hearsay but here are the main bullets from that post:

  • The service will offer photo, video and status message sharing
  • Everything shared on Circles is shared “only with the most appropriate circle of social contacts in their lives, not with all your contacts in bulk”
  • Chris Messina and Jonathan Sposato are/were involved
  • The core concepts are based on the work of Paul Adams, a former Googler now at Facebook. Adams developed the widely viewed presentation that diagnosed the deficiencies with current social networks (read: Facebook)

Liz Gannes at AllThingsD reports, in response to RWW, that she obtained a statement from a Google representative who said “unequivocally” that no such service is launching at SXSW today.

Despite persistent rumors dating back many months ago, Google has denied that it is creating a stand alone social network. Google has said instead that it’s integrating a “social layer” into its various properties. Indeed the company has been doing that, most notably in search.

There is already a “social circles” offering at Google, though it appears to have been superseded by social search, which is more extensive. Regardless there is a “product” in the works, other than merely a “social layer,” over at Google. The company has reportedly briefed a number of people on it.

Originally rumored to be called “Google Me” there have been rounds and rounds of speculation about what a new Google social network would be and do. Perhaps in anticipation of the new product Google recently revamped its Profiles offering to make it more closely resemble a Facebook page.

Google is undoubtedly being very cautious here given how badly burned it was with the less-than-optimal rollout of Buzz.

Postscript: We received the following statement from Google:

We’re always experimenting with new ways to improve our products. As with all experiments at Google, we don’t have any additional information about if or when products will launch.

Postscript 2: AllThingsD’s Gannes talked to some of the people (e.g., Chris Messina) allegedly involved in “Circles” today in Austin. She says they told her there’s no “product” and there may never be one. This is curious because there is something that was shown to people but perhaps it was simply an early prototype of something that won’t ever appear.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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