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Google To Counter Facebook's Social Comment System?

Google and Facebook are becoming more alike as they compete more vigorously with one another. Facebook last month improved its image presentation by introducing a lightbox photo viewer that appears to have been inspired by the way Google+ displays images.

More recently, a report from a Google conference held over the weekend in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, suggests that Google is preparing to extend the Google+ commenting system to third-party websites.

Writing for Arabic-language website Tech-WD, blogger Saud Alhoawi claims that Google intends to make its comment system work with third-party websites, and that the system will include some means of URL shortening, to reduce the size of unwieldy Google+ URLs.

Google declined to comment on rumor or speculation.

Nevertheless, the report has an undeniable logic: Websites that integrate Facebook social technology are going to be less inclined to integrate Google social technology. If Google fails to offer an alternative, it may find third-party websites becoming more tightly bound to its competitor.

[ Read Dear FTC: Privacy Power Trumps Privacy Rules. ]

Just over a year ago, Facebook made its commenting system available to third-party websites through its Comment Box plugin. And many websites have adopted the system.

But doing so creates lock-in: Website operators are going to think twice about removing Facebook's technology because they don't want to lose past comments or alienate users participating in the system. And they're going to be less interested in Google+: With Facebook comments already integrated, Google+ comments become redundant.

What's more, Google has made it clear that promoting Google+ is a major corporate priority. Last year, a memo from Google CEO Larry Page indicated that corporate bonuses would be tied to fulfilling the company's social integration agenda. And the effects of that incentive are readily apparent in initiatives like Search Plus Your World, which mixed Google+ content in with Google search results.

It remains to be seen whether Google's comment system will support any login mechanism other than a Google account. One of the concerns about integrating Facebook comments is that websites risk surrendering too much control to Facebook by relying on Facebook as a sign-on system.

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