Facebook Admits to Smear Campaign against Google

Found this interesting, and didn’t see a thread on it.

Big news in the world of tech titans clashing today: Facebook admits to the Daily Beast that it was the client behind a PR firm’s clumsy attempt to plant a damaging story about a Google social feature that’s almost two years old. The whisper campaign attempted by Burson-Marsteller turned into screaming headlines this week, after USA Today decided to write about the firm’s attempts to bamboozle it (after actually being bamboozled and nearly publishing a front page story about it, says Christopher Soghoian to BetaBeat).

Burson-Marsteller’s attempts to plant a story about Google’s “Social Circle” — a feature that shows you who Google knows you’re connected to — came to light after privacy advocate Soghoian posted his email exchanges with the PR firm in which it asked him to put his byline on an op-ed that the firm had ghost-written. Sample line from op-ed: “Google Social Circles automatically enables people to trace their contacts’ connections and profile information by crawling and scraping the sites you and your contacts use, like Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo and many others, likely in direct violation of the Terms of Service for those sites, unless those sites have partnered with Google on this “service,” something else users ought to be aware of.” (Soghoian is a colorful character who I profiled for Forbes magazine in November; PR firms, beware.) The PR attempt led to very bad PR for Burson, given that it exaggerated the privacy fears around Social Circles and deceptively presented it as a “new feature.”

Companies end up exhibiting the personality of their founders.

  1. Facebook conducting business in a shady, underhanded manner? Duh.

  2. It is surprising that Facebook would even waste the effort to screw with Google’s lame attempts at social networking.

Totally explains Apple and Microsoft right now.