It’s no secret that Google and Facebook aren’t the best of friends. Facebook has 600 million users or so, with a huge social graph that Google wants in on. Facebook isn’t having it. They’ve had their little spats before, but this latest story is nothing short of ridiculous. Facebook got the idea to get at Google by highlighting privacy concerns in using Google services. The problem is, Facebook couldn’t do so directly because of their own privacy issues. To get around this, they hired a PR firm to do their dirty work.
While this firm, Burson-Marsteller, has “represented lots of blue-chip corporate clients in its 58-year history,” has consulted for Bill Clinton, and strategized for Hillary in 2008, their approach here was quite amateur. The Daily Beast says it best: “here were two guys from one of the biggest and best-known PR agencies in the world, blustering around Silicon Valley like a pair of Keystone Kops.”
They approached Privacy advocate Christopher Soghoian, hoping to use his name for Facebook’s vendetta against Google. He told BetaBeat that they even offered to ghost-write the piece. Instead of simple refusing their request, he posted the email exchange online, much to Facebook’s embarrassment.
Why should Facebook be embarrassed? Their have no privacy concerns, right? It’s not as if Facebook’s API has ever leaked private information. They’ve never forced users to opt-out of sharing their information with third-parties. They didn’t have to have a meeting specifically about privacy since users had become so upset they were flocking to Facebook alternatives. There wasn’t even an unofficial Quit Facebook Day as users attempted to rebel against the popular social networking site. Kidding aside, even after changing their privacy policies, Facebook apps still leaked data. It was only a couple of days ago that Symantec discovered Facebook applications accidentally leaking data to third parties, again. This last leak caused Facebook to overhaul their security protocols and implement OAuth 2.0, HTTPS and SSL Certificates.
I’ll refrain from making references to black pots and kettles, but Facebook definitely loses face here. As far as many are concerned, Facebook’s integrity was already in question when it came to privacy, and this backstabbing and desperate move doesn’t help any. One has to wonder, though. How scared of Google is Facebook to pull a stunt like this?