Facebook Caught Hiring PR Firm To Smear And Attack Google
from the oops dept
Following that, USA Today picked up on the story, building on what Soghoian released, and noting that the same folks at Burson had been pushing USA Today to do a story on the same issue, but in checking out the details, the reporters noticed that what Burson was spreading wasn't even accurate:
In a May 3 e-mail to former FTC researcher and blogger Christopher Soghoian, Burson's Mercurio offered to ghost write an op-ed column to that effect for Soghoian. Mercurio even offered in a widely circulated e-mail to help Soghoian get it published in The Washington Post, Politico, The Hill, Roll Call and The Huffington Post.Of course, that left a big question. Who had hired Burson to do this? Most of the theories focused on Microsoft. This seemed like the sort of thing it might do. Some people, apparently, thought it might be Apple, recognizing how much of a rival Google has become. However, the surprise news is that it was Facebook, which 'fessed up to Dan Lyons at the Daily Beast, after being confronted.
Meanwhile, Goldman connected with USA TODAY and outlined a news story critical of Social Circle.
However, Soghoian derailed Burson's efforts by posting the full e-mail text of Mercurio's pitch -- along with his rejection -- on the Internet. After Goldman's pitch proved largely untrue, he subsequently declined USA TODAY's requests for comment.
Confronted with evidence, a Facebook spokesman last night confirmed that Facebook hired Burson, citing two reasons: First, because it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, because Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service.Now, these kinds of hit pieces are not really that uncommon. PR people place stuff like this all the time. But it's a bit rarer in Silicon Valley, where that kind of thing is considered really dirty pool. It's also a pretty unfortunate statement about Facebook and the way it views the world. Playing dirty tricks on competitors isn't particularly productive, and just makes you wonder if it means that Facebook realizes it can't compete with Google, so it needs to come up with bogus attacks.