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Google denies Circles social network plans

Reports that Google would be launching a direct assault on Facebook with a social networking service called Circles within the next few days have been strongly denied by the advertising giant.

The company was allegedly working on Google Circles in order to cash in on the lucrative social networking market currently dominated by Facebook, with ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick breaking the story yesterday. Sadly for those who like to consolidate all their online services with a single company, it appears not to be the case.

Kirkpatrick reported that Google would be announcing Circles at the South by Southwest festival in Texas late yesterday, with BarCamp founder Chris Messina and photo editing service Piknik chief Jonathan Sposato both named as being heavily involved in the project.

Sadly, Google has poured water on those claims, stating that it has no plans to launch any new products at SXSW. Messina has also come forward and told Liz Gannes at AllThingsD that he has 'no idea' what the story was claiming, and has no involvement in any such project at Google.

A claim by Tim O'Reilly to have seen Google Circles in action - which he described as 'awesome' - appeared shortly after the Kirkpatrick story went live on the microblogging service Twitter. O'Reilly now claims to have been 'fooled' by the story on RWW into thinking that what he had seen, which was 'some research-y thinking' regarding how to manage social data, had been morphed into a full social networking service.

Kirkpatrick's claims were, it must be said, particularly believable: social networking is a billionaire-maker, and Google has previously indicated its intentions to provide services to support every facet of an individual's online life. With its previous attempts to fight an incumbent force having failed, however - the 'next Twitter,' Google Buzz, was pretty much dead on arrival, while its attempt to revolutionise collaboration with Wave fared little better - it looks like Google isn't planning on picking a fight with Facebook just yet.