Update: Chris Messina tells WebProNews that Google has "nothing to announce today" and would not comment on Google Cirlces.
Update 2: This seems official enough:
Original Article: Rumor travels fast on the web, but perhaps even faster at SXSW. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb says he's heard that Google may be getting ready to announce a social network called Google Circles here at the event.
Kirkpatrick writes: "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."
He says Chris Messina is heavily involved with the project. Messina is Google's open web advocate. We've talked to him numerous times about various open web and identity issues. It stands to reason that these elements will be very integral to the product.
Google launching a social media product at SXSW would not be a huge surpise, as one has been expected for quite some time. The company has been talking about building a social layer across its products for months, and we've seen clues here and there about how Google might bring this all together - namely Profiles and a toolbar.
According to Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Sposato, CEO of Picnik is also working on the project.
We'll see what this Googel Circles is all about very shortly, I'm guessing. Will it be bigger than Buzz? Let's see exactly what it is first. We'll update when we know more about this Google Circles, assuming Kirkpatrick's info is accurate (and we have no reason to believe otherwise).