Google Gears Up for New Social Network

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google has jumped into the social networking space by introducing its own social network called Google Plus.

Google’s co-founder Larry Page made social networking a top priority for the company when he took over as chief executive last month. The search engine giant is trying to compete in the space as people spend more and more time on Facebook and Twitter.

"Companies that are successful with the social web will get the page views, they'll get the engagement and they'll eventually get the advertising dollars that are so important to Google,” said Ray Valdes, a research analyst.

Google Plus is structured in a similar fashion to Facebook, with profile pictures and newsfeeds forming a central core. But a user’s friends or contacts are grouped into very specific circles of their choosing, versus the common pool of friends typical on Facebook.

To set its service apart from Facebook, Google is betting on what it says is a better approach to privacy — a hot-button issue that has caused problems for Facebook, as well as Google, in the past.

Central to Google Plus are the "circles" of friends and acquaintances. Users can organize contacts into different customized circles — family members, coworkers, college friends — and share photos, videos or other information only within those groups.

"In the online world there's this 'share box' and you type into it and you have no idea who is going to get that, or where it's going to land, or how it's going to embarrass you six months from now," said Bradley Horowitz, Google vice president of product management.

"For us, privacy isn't buried six panels deep," he added.