Google CEO: Facebook a possible search engine rival

Facebook and Google logos
Larry Page

Google and Facebook have had an interesting relationship over the years.

At the moment, it's a little strained.

The giant search engine is waiting for the giant social network to allow wider access to its users' information.

It's part of the larger question of whether Facebook is aspiring to take Google on in the search engine field.

And that is an issue of great importance to the bottom lines of both Internet giants, observes Rebecca Jarvis, "CBS This Morning" business and economics correspondent.

Jarvis noted that the advertising search engines attract is the reason Facebook may want to "play in the universe that Google plays in" since, "for both of these companies, advertising is the big source of revenue."

In an interview that aired Monday night on Charlie Rose's show on PBS, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page told Rose, who's a co-host of "CBS This Morning," that Facebook's possible emergence as a competitor in the search arena is "something we take seriously."

Page said, "I think it's been unfortunate that Facebook has been pretty closed with their data. ... We're in the business of searching data. We don't generally turn it down when it's offered to us."

"In general," Page continued, "I think we'd like to see content on the Internet being made more open, and so on."

Google "has an issue" with Facebook over contacts, Page says.

"From a user's perspective," Page explained, "you say, 'Oh, it's great. I'm ... joining Facebook. I want my contacts.' In Google, we said, 'Fine. ... You can get them from Google.' And the issue we had is that then Facebook said, 'No, Google, you can't do the reverse.'

"And so we just said, 'Well, users don't understand what they're doing. They're putting data in, and they don't understand they can't take it out.' So we said, 'We'll only participate with people who have reciprocity.' And we're still waiting."

If Facebook doesn't offer reciprocity, Page says, "I imagine they'll be forced to eventually if ... they don't choose to. But I think ... the idea that ... you'd hold your users hostage kind of, and the absence of reasons for it that don't make sense. ... You know, (that) they'd hold their users' data."

What are Facebook's reasons?

"They claim it's a privacy issue, but it's not, really, because they do it with Yahoo -- they just don't do it with us," Page pointed out. "But I think ... you don't want to be holding your users hostage and we really ... felt that ... we want there to be a competitive market. We want other companies to be able to do things, so we think it's important that you, as users of Google, can take your data and you can take it out if you need to or take it somewhere else."

To see Page discussing the possibility of competition from Facebook as a search engine, click on the video in the player above.