With privacy a hot-button topic for the past few weeks, thanks to revelations about location tracking via smartphone and the like, the timing of what has now been revealed as a Facebook smear campaign against Google must have seemed perfect. But the campaign gets a big fat “F” for execution.
The Daily Beast reports that Facebook has admitted to hiring PR firm Burson-Marsteller to push the media to write about privacy issues surrounding a Google tool called Social Circle, which allows Gmail users to see their social connections as well as those of their contacts. A Facebook spokesman told the Daily Beast that the company is concerned with the privacy implications of Google’s scraping of what a Google spokesman told USA Today is information that’s public — data gathered from Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp and more. The PR campaign began to unravel when a blogger refused to cooperate because Burson wouldn’t name its client; the blogger instead published the email exchange with John Mercurio, a former reporter now working for Burson.