Recent Posts

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Facebook Smearing Google?


By: Kareem Ali

There have been no shortage of reports on Burson-Marsteller getting caught running what seems like an anti-Google smear campaign for Facebook.  The most recent news is the law firms removal of a post on Burson-Marsteller’s Facebook page that pointed people to the article which revealed it all.

In case you haven’t heard the news let me catch you up a bit. Burson-Marsteller is a worldwide, award winning PR firm. According to a report by Dan Lyons on The Daily Beast, Burson had contacted a popular blogger about writing an op-ed basically blasting Google for violating privacy rights in it’s recent ‘Social Circle’ social networking plan. The blogger turned down the offer and instead posted the email exchange he and Burson had which led to questions, most important of which was, who hired the firm in the first place?

After a little bit of digging around The Daily Beast uncovered that the unknown client was in fact Facebook.

Facebook did not deny that they hired Burson-Marsteller, stating that the believe Google’s new social networking features are in violation of their agreement with the FTC, which is enough to raise privacy concerns and that Google is collecting data about Facebook’s users which violates their TOS.

The problem with Facebook’s concerns seems to be that they are entirely overblown and exaggerated. The blogger who posted the emails (Chris Shogoian) looked into Google Social and basically said that it’s not dangerous and Burson was making a mountain out of a molehill. Not only that but USA Today came to the same conclusion after their investigations.

Ok now that your caught up here’s what going on now. Wired caught the screenshot below of a post someone posted on Burson-Marsteller’s Facebook page:



According to Wired they received a phone call soon after posting the story from a Burson-Marsteller representative who told them that what they did was wrong and that they’d be apologizing to Ms. Murray and allowing her to re-post the link.

It’s going to be hard for both Facebook and Burson to recover from the bad media they’re both getting from this, and things like this don’t help. If people weren’t too sure of what Burson is willing to do, removing a Facebook post should prove it. Burson has stated that they wish the never got involved in the whole thing and that the two people responsible for taking on the assignment will be taking advanced ethics lessons rather than being fired. But with their reputation being so harmed (and doubly so by this action) then there is no reason they should expect people to believe that, except of course for their recent SABRE award and 58 years of apparently ethical assignments and campaigns.

There’s just two things I’d really like to point out about all of this.

First off, I see an ironic kind of circular logic going on with Facebook here. They’re mad at Google and trying to make a case that their data collection methods are too intrusive. While at the same time collecting all the data it can off it’s 600 million users. For the same purpose, getting in your head to sell you ads, of course that is pretty much what all this is about but I still find it kind of ironic.

Secondly, who’s to say that Google is doing the same thing to Facebook? There is no reason to believe that if one PR firm is willing to do this, another isn’t. Google also has quite a bit more experience, connections, and resources to smear Facebook clandestinely without ever getting caught. The fact that quite a few PR experts seem unsurprised by is enough to make me believe that this happens pretty often and probably gets unearthed rarely, why else would Facebook be confident enough to risk it’s already somewhat fragile public image by running this campaign?

Related Stuffs:

No comments:

Post a Comment