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Google's head-head challenge for Facebook market

Google is taking on Facebook with the unveiling of its latest attempt to build a social network modelled directly on its fast-growing rival, according to the Financial Times.

The report said Google’s move signals a change of course following other recent failed efforts to build social features into its services – such as its Buzz network for Gmail e-mail users.

Known as Google+, the network will at first be available by invitation only.

Google avoided naming Facebook directly as it announced the new service on Tuesday but made clear that it was targeting what it believed were flaws in Facebook’s service to attract an audience.

Analysts said while early industry reaction to Google+ was favourable, it would be difficult for Google+ to draw many users away from Facebook.

Josh Bernoff, social media analyst with Forrester Research said Google+ is likely to be more successful than previous initiatives like Buzz but not likely to threaten Facebook.

Google sought to play on privacy concerns to set its network apart from Facebook, which has been at the centre of a series of disputes about making user information public.

According to the FT report, Google would give users “more ways to stay private or go public”. It would include a feature known as 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”. -- Source: Financial Times