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We believe that Google will preview a major new social service called Google Circles at South by Southwest Interactive today. If what we've heard is correct, the service will offer photo, video and status message sharing. Everything users share on Circles will be shared only with the most appropriate circle of social contacts in their lives, not with all your contacts in bulk. Circles may be shown off at an event co-hosted tonight by the ACLU, an organization focused on privacy and the liberties it affords. It may not be a big public launch yet, but it's clear that this is a major product in the works at the very least.
The service has been developed with extensive participation by Chris Messina, the co-creator of numerous successful social and software phenomena online, from BarCamp to Hashtags and much more. Messina declined to comment for this story. Jonathan Sposato, CEO of the photo editing service Piknik that Google acquired last year, is working on Circles as well. Sposato may be the only entrepreneur to have sold not one but two startups to Google - having founded Phatbits, a service that was acquired by Google in 2005 and became Google Gadgets. These are heavy hitting tech leaders and the service should be very interesting.