The Google-Facebook rivalry has hit a new low, after the recent expose’ on how Facebook was carrying out an anti-Google smear campaign through a US based PR agency, Burson-Marsteller(BM).
Facebook red-handed earlier this month when blogger Chris Soghoian posted emails he had received from BM’s John Mercurio who wrote
I wanted to gauge your interest in authoring an op-ed this week for a top-tier media outlet on an important issue that I know you’re following closely
Burson-Marsteller further came under the scanner when they deleted the following post from their own Facebook page probably in an attempt to save their name from any bad publicity.
Not only this, Burson-Marsteller also tried to sweet-talk USA Today to join their campaign and berate Google’s Social Circle, on privacy grounds. But just like Soghoian USA today chose to delve deeper into this matter and publish their own story about the Burston “whisper campaign” against Google on behalf of a secret client.
Now that Facebook has been ousted with sharp criticism from the entire digital world, the social giant had no choice but to own up to the incident and do some damage control. In their statement Facebook said:
No ‘smear’ campaign was authorized or intended. Instead, we wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles — just as Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose. We engaged Burson-Marsteller to focus attention on this issue, using publicly available information that could be independently verified by any media organization or analyst. The issues are serious and we should have presented them in a serious and transparent way.
Doesn’t this statement seem like ‘the pot calling the kettle black?’
This entire incident highlights two main issues, the first being how the giants of search and social networking are increasingly at odds and are willing to go to extreme limits to outdo each other. And secondly even though Facebook is crying foul about Google’s privacy policies, it has exposed its own privacy issues by allowing Google to index its pages into their search results. Perhaps not any more.