The claws are coming out in Silicon Valley.
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dismissed Google's social networking site Google+, launched in June of this year, as a copycat attempt to "build their own little version of Facebook" -- harsh words for a project that Google insiders have characterized as a bet-the-company effort.
Google+'s vice president of product Bradley Horowitz blasted back at Zuckerberg's critique and warned that the Facebook CEO was underestimating Google.
"We are delighted to be underestimated. It's served us very well to date. That's fine by us. I'm not going to clear anything up," Horowitz told Bloomberg's Emily Chang.
Horowitz also outlined Google's ambitions for Google+ and explained in no uncertain terms that the company hopes the social network will provide it with even more data about its users. Though Google has come under fire for privacy violations in the past, Horowitz claimed that the web giant actually knows "very little" about its users and seeks to address this gap with Google+.
"Today [users] come back to us in a largely unidentified state. We know very little about them and we remember very little about them," Horowitz said. "The way we think about Google+ is changing this mode of interaction so we actually get to know our users deeply. We understand who they are, what they love, who they know and then reflect that back as value to them, so that all of our services get better when users use their own data in their own services."
Zuckerberg made a similar claim about Facebook in his interview with Rose, while positing that companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, which quietly collected data on individuals, were a greater threat to users' privacy than Facebook, which showcased only the information users had volunteered.
Previously, Google has positioned Google+ as the more private-focused alternative to Facebook.
Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering at Google, said at the Web 2.0 conference earlier this year that Google's social networking site would "take a privacy centered approach, one that's very focused on individuals."
Horowitz declined to share the latest stats on Google+'s users, but noted that the service had "grown significantly" since announcing it had reached 40 million unique users.