Death by Google? Web Giant Could Challenge Facebook

College students sound off on social networking likes and dislikes.

ByABC News
August 2, 2010, 6:23 PM

Aug. 4, 2010— -- With the recent news of Google's plans to create a social networking site that could rival Facebook, many people have wondered how any site could overthrow the social-media giant.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Google is talking to several top online game developers about creating a broader social networking site that would offer social games and could compete with Facebook. Google's talks are still in the early stages but what would it take for Facebook to meet its match?

Facebook is the largest social networking site, boasting more than 500 million active users worldwide. College students are known for spending hours on the site, browsing through their friends' pictures, writing on other people's "walls" and updating their status, among other things. So far, most college students seem to be satisfied with Facebook.

Lauren Walters, 21, a graduate student at Clemson University in South Carolina, has had a Facebook account for about six years. She said she uses it often, usually twice a day during the school year.

When asked if she thought the site could be improved, she said, "I'm pretty happy with Facebook as it is."

Still, several college students across the country offered some suggestions for what Google could do with its new social networking site to make them kiss Facebook goodbye.

When Ryan Khuri, 21, a junior majoring in English/philosophy at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, joined Facebook, he saw it as "the simple alternative to MySpace." But now, Khuri said, Facebook "seems to be building more and more clutter."

Northwestern medical student Jack Dougherty, 22, agreed. Although he deleted his Facebook account a few years ago to help prevent his spending too much time on his computer, he said, one thing that would make Facebook more appealing to him is to simplify it.

"I hated all of the add-ons and extensions that cluttered up everyone's page," Dougherty said.

Many college students cite third-party applications as the main cause of Facebook clutter. Requests asking users to join popular games on Facebook such as Farmville and Mafia Wars often build up in many Facebook accounts.

"The constant invites to join them are annoying," said Walters, who said she uses Facebook for "social networking, and not for playing games."

If Walters' and other college students' irritation at the games on Facebook is any indication, Google probably shouldn't count on the gaming aspect of its social networking site to win over Facebook users.