- Associated Press - Monday, November 7, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google’s social networking service is now open for businesses.

The expansion, announced on Monday, is the latest feature on Google’s Plus service to imitate what’s already available on Facebook, the leading website for sharing with family, friends and businesses.

Google Inc. unveiled Plus in late June to counter Facebook’s popularity and learn more about people’s interests. It hopes to gain insights that will help its dominant Internet search engine spit out more compelling results that keep people coming back to click on ads.

Until now, Plus was open only to individuals. Google says more than 40 million people have Plus profiles. Facebook has more than 800 million users.

In addition to companies, celebrities and sports teams will be able to set up Google Plus pages just as they can on Facebook.

Google showcased the new Plus feature Monday with pages from 20 business, celebrities and sports teams. The initial list includes Toyota, the Muppets, the Dallas Cowboys, Pepsi and the pop music group Train.

Other organizations can open their Plus pages at https://plus.google.com/pages/create.

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