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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Facebook says no 'smear' campaign intended against Google (What happened)

Just another news where Facebook did yet another thing that is unethical. A quick summary on the recent event involving Facebook and Google is that the former was suspected to have launched a 'smear' campaign against Google's networking site Social Circle.

What actually happened?

Facebook actually hired an upscale PR firm, Burson-Marsteller to help spread negative press regarding Google's Social Circle, accusing Google violation in privacy. After Facebook's dirty acts were exposed, many see this as unethical and downright unscrupulous. Facebook attempted a damage control act, disclaiming no intention of a 'smear' campaign.

Facebook's press statement about the campaign aimed at Google's Social Circle feature:
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.

You and your readers can look at the feature and decide if they have approved of this collection and use of information by clicking here when their Google account is open: Of course, people who do not have Gmail accounts are still included in this collection but they have no way to view or control it.

In a statement released Thursday, Burson-Marsteller backed away from the campaign, saying it went against the firm's policies and "should have been declined."

Press statement from Burson:
Now that Facebook has come forward, we can confirm that we undertook an assignment for that client.

The client requested that its name be withheld on the grounds that it was merely asking to bring publicly available information to light and such information could then be independently and easily replicated by any media. Any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.

Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle.

Such underhanded and malicious PR attack against Google can only backfire. Instead of people focusing on Google's Social Circle privacy policy, media is now portraying Facebook as being "dirty" and evil.

Quoted from a blog post:
Google hasn’t even had to respond to the situation, and has taken the strong, silent position and high road by not really saying anything negative about Facebook. Well they don’t really have to do they? The media is taking care of all that for them.

If ever Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg did anything that is NOT unethical, it would have been a shocking news that can move the world.

SHAME on Facebook.

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