Eric Schmidt: Google tried to use personal info from Facebook in data-sharing deal

Kevin Rawlinson

114744973 Eric Schmidt: Google tried to use personal info from Facebook in data sharing dealGoogle tried to “partner” with Facebook in a bid to gain access to its users’ personal information, the search giant’s executive chairman has revealed.

Eric Schmidt said Google tried to strike the information-sharing deal with Facebook, which would have seen it given permission to integrate data volunteered by Facebook users about their “friends and acquaintances” into its Search function, because it would improve the Google service.

But, despite Google trying “very hard” to reach an agreement, he said Mark Zuckerberg’s site was “unwilling to do the deal”, preferring to speak to Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

Relations between the two companies have since soured further after the revelations that a PR agency employed by Facebook had tried to launch a smear campaign against Google. And it was announced earlier this month that Bing – Microsoft’s rival to Google Search – had secured a deal with Facebook, meaning that information uploaded to the social network would appear in its search results.

For its part, Google has dipped its toe into the social networking water, most notably with its Google Buzz service and there were rumours that a project called “Google Me” would be its Facebook killer. The company also released its Google+1 service, which is similar to Facebook’s “Like” button.

So far, none of those services has helped Google establish a credible rival to Mr Zuckerberg’s site. But Mr Schmidt said yesterday: “I think the industry as a whole would benefit from an alternative [to Facebook].” The two companies compete for the lucrative online advertising market and, specifically, targeted advertising, which is tailored to the individual and requires user-submitted information to function properly.

Mr Schmidt has always maintained that Google’s services work better when its users submit information plentifully and there has been mistrust in the past of the amount the company holds. But Mr Schmidt has made sure to point out that the company only holds the data its users give it permission to. At a Google-organised conference earlier this month, senior executives reiterated that the information Google does hold remains the property of customers and that they can delete it at any time, using the company’s dashboard facility.

In the interview given at the D: All Things Digital Conference in California on Tuesday, Mr Schmidt delivered a veiled insult to Microsoft. He said that a “gang of four” is running the world of technology today: Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. To that he list, he added Paypal and Twitter, while Microsoft – which he described as an enterprise company, rather than a driver of consumer products – was conspicuous by its absence.

Spokesmen from both Google and Facebook refused to comment on the issue today.

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