Google “wouldn’t have launched” if Facebook was around

Sergey Brin has claimed that Google would never have got off the ground if Facebook had been around when the search engine launched.


In an interview with The Guardian, Brin cited the effects of Apple’s App Store and Facebook on the internet, saying such “walled gardens” were stifling net freedom – as well as the ability for his own company to crawl for data to use in search.

All the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers

“There’s a lot to be lost,” he told the newspaper. “For example, all the information in apps – that data is not crawlable by web crawlers. You can’t search it.”

He claimed that he and co-founder Larry Page wouldn’t have been able to start the search engine now, with Facebook getting in the way. “You have to play by its rules, which are really restrictive,” he said. “The kind of environment that we developed Google in, the reason that we were able to develop a search engine, is the web was so open. Once you get too many rules, that will stifle innovation.”

Brin’s comments echo an article written by Sir Tim Berners Lee two years ago, where the web creator warned that the actions of companies such as Apple and Facebook could lead to the web being “broken into fragmented islands”.

Brin’s firm is pushing its own Google+ social network, and recently relaunched the Google Play app store for its own Android platform, with Page recently claiming 850,000 handsets were activated daily.

State censorship

The Google co-founder also said he was becoming “more worried” about state censorship of the internet, adding: “It’s scary”.

He said state-level restrictions in countries such as Saudi Arabia and China were his biggest concern, and admitted he was wrong about the internet’s ability to overcome censorship. “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle,” he said.

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