Google not building Facebook rival, says exec

Google's head of mobile product development has ruled out building a Facebook clone, but did not deny the search giant is looking to enter the social networking game.

According to Reuters, Hugo Barra made the comments in response to a question at the Monaco Media Forum, and implied any foray into social networking would be different to existing sites.

"We're not working on a social network platform that's just going to be another social network platform," he said.

Mr Barra agreed that social integration would be important for Google's search and advertising businesses in particular and said the company was ''thinking about the problem''.

Rumours of a Google-powered social network first emerged in June this year when Digg's Kevin Rose tweeted that the search giant was preparing to launch the crudely-named ''Google Me''. The rumours grew louder when former Facebook CTO Adam D'Angelo weighed in via his Q&A site Quora, declaring that not only was ''Google Me'' real, it was a ''high-priority project'' within Google.

Google's ownership of social network Orkut, which is popular in Brazil and India, was also used as evidence of the Big G's intention to branch out into a dedicated social network.

Google Buzz, the company's first foray into social networking, sparked a storm of controversy after users complained the service violated their privacy.

In September, Google agreed to pay $8.5 million to a fund for organizations focusing on Internet privacy policy or education as a result of a class action suit brought by Gmail users over Google Buzz.

Meantime, CNN Money has reported that the leaker who provided Business Insider with details of a 10 per cent pay rise and bonus payment to all Google employees earlier this week has been sacked.

Google reportedly notified all staff just hours after the leak that the individual responsible had been terminated. A Google spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

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