Like a couple of sumo wrestlers squaring off, Facebook and Google are at it again.
News outlet “Daily Beast” uncovered a smear campaign against Google, started by Facebook, to publish negative articles on the company’s privacy policies.
Burson-Marsteller, a PR firm notorious for taking on dubious client briefs like the post-9/11 Saudi Arabian government, was hired by Facebook to spread stories in the media alleging Google was violating user privacy. They targeted tech blogger Chris Soghoian to assist in writing an op-ed piece criticizing Google’s Social Circle, which allows its users to access information on secondary connections.
Burson refused to tell Soghoian which company prompted the smear campaign. The PR firm obviously underestimated a reporter’s ability to uncover sources.
Soghoian published all the emails between himself and Burston. Not long afterward, “The Daily Beast” picked up on it and revealed Facebook as the culprit.
“This scandal couldn’t have hit a more deserving company,” Soghoian said.
Facebook claims innocence in this incident. A spokesman was quoted in Forbes today as saying, “No ‘smear’ campaign was authorized or intended … the issues are serious and we should have presented them in a serious and transparent way.” The spokesman said they simply wanted third parties to verify that people didn’t approve of Social Circle using subscribers’ account information.
Facebook also accused Google of trying to use the social network’s data in its own service.
Burson-Marsteller spokesman Paul Cordasco said that giving Soghoian such an assignment was not “standard operating procedure,” and against company policy. Cordasco said Burson-Marsteller terminated both the assignment and its partnership with Facebook in the matter.
A statement by Burson-Marsteller said they never should have accepted Facebook’s assignment in the first place, as it violated the PR firm’s policy.
Nice try, Facebook.
According to one person’s comment on a Reve News article about the two networks, “Google will always be unbeatable. Facebook is defined as a social network and Google is apparently a search engine. Therefore, both have altogether a different purpose.”
“The Daily Beast” reporter Dan Lyons, who broke the story, said corporate giants Microsoft and Apple were thought to be behind the smear campaign. Facebook wasn’t even a suspect.
Considering the ongoing feud between Google and Facebook, I find this hard to believe.
Let’s review the evidence:
- In 2010, Google changed its terms of service, blocking Facebook from importing Google’s user data without offering reciprocity.
- Google invested $100 million in Zynga, the social game outlet and top advertiser for Facebook.
- Also in 2010, Facebook launched Bing for its users, a default search engine that enhanced their advertising model.
- Google even considered aligning itself with Facebook, but Microsoft won the bid (another part of Facebook’s ongoing attempt to “conquer” Google).
I find it funny that a site dedicated to TMI is worried about privacy acts, especially considering the way Burson pitched the story to journalists: “The American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives.”
It’s not really an intrusion when people are putting their personal lives out there, is it?
Most people can Google themselves and find at least a few links to something related to their name. Most often, their Facebook page is one of the first things that pops up.
Face it, FB: You’re linked to Google whether you like it or not.