Thursday, May 12, 2011

Facebook loses face, exposed in secret attempt to smear Google

It's no secret that Facebook and Google have not exactly been best buddies of late, but Facebook is looking more book and less Face, as it's certainly lost face as a secret smear campaign it was attempting to foster against Google has been exposed. There's also no doubt in the matter: Facebook has confirmed the allegations.

iPad 2 CasesFacebook hired top PR firm Burson-Marsteller. The idea was to use the recent stories about privacy and tracking that Google (and Apple) have been involved in against the Internet giant. Burson-Marsteller would pitch anti-Google stories to the media, and even offered to help blogger Chris Soghoian write a critical op-ed piece, which it said it could get published in outlets such as The Huffington Post, Politico, The Washington Post, and more. The attempt backfired when Soghoian refused and posted the emails (here).

At the time, the Burson's client was undisclosed. But the Daily Beast has confirmed Facebook was the client, with the confirmation coming straight from the horse's mouth (a Facebook spokesman). The spokesman gave two reasons (excuses?) for hiring Burson:
First, because it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, because Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service.
It's very likely that the second reason is the more important one, in Facebook's eyes. Privacy issues? After all, Facebook itself has been at the center of many privacy fiascoes of its own.

Why would Facebook do this? [And why did they think it would get away with it?]

The obvious thought is that Facebook is scared of Google. The fear goes both ways, apparently. In April, co-founder and newly minted CEO Larry Page sent out a memo putting everyone at Google on alert that 25 percent of their bonuses in 2011 will be tied to how well Google's social networking moves do this year.

We'll see if Google chooses to escalate the war, and if they try to do it under the table, secretly, surreptitiously (and honestly, cowardly) or out in the open.

Via: The Daily Beast



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