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Facebook differs with Google on Net neutrality

Although it says a recently released statement on Net neutrality is a clarification of existing policy, rather than a reaction to the Google-Verizon proposal, it's telling that Facebook doesn't take Google's stance.

Facebook has released a statement about its stance on the controversial topic of Net neutrality--and it's not in agreement with Google, which recently announced a proposal with Verizon Communications in which it recommends that Net neutrality not extend beyond the "public Internet" of wireline networks.

"Facebook continues to support principles of Net neutrality for both landline and wireless networks," the company's Washington, D.C.-based policy spokesman, Andrew Noyes, said in a statement. "Preserving an open Internet that is accessible to innovators--regardless of their size or wealth--will promote a vibrant and competitive marketplace where consumers have ultimate control over the content and services delivered through their Internet connections."

Noyes clarified to CNET via e-mail that it's reasserting Facebook's existing stance on Net neutrality and that the statement should not be considered specific to the Google-Verizon framework; last fall, Facebook was one of the companies to sign a letter to the FCC in support of Chairman Julius Genachowski's efforts to preserve Net neutrality.

The Google-Verizon proposal draws a line between wireline and wireless broadband networks, meaning that while the two companies--which work together in Google's Android market--support the FCC's regulation of wireline networks, they claim that innovation in the mobile world could be curtailed through the presence of a nondiscrimination policy.

This makes sense for Google, which has a very different presence on the "public Internet" than it does in the mobile space, where it's an operating-system manufacturer, as well as a search and advertising power. But Facebook is looking to the mobile Web as a big driver of future growth, and isn't going to want to be doing so in an environment potentially more Google-dominated. The two companies are already preparing for head-to-head combat in the social-media sector, which Facebook dominates and where Google wants to make successful inroads, and it will certainly carry over into the mobile world.