Analysis: Facebook and Burson-Marstellar are still wiping the egg from their faces after trying to set Google up in the press. Google is playing the strong, silent type.
media echo chamber continues to rage around Facebook for its hiring of public
relations firm Burson-Marstellar to engage in a smear campaign against Google
over its social-data collection, the search-engine giant has remained largely
acknowledged seeing evidence of Facebook's stunt, it has taken the high road as
it prepares its response.
eWEEK and most
other media outlets covering this issue attended Google I/O with several Google
executives who, no doubt, are quietly stewing even as the press happily pounds
its social-network rival from down the road into submission.
weathered two major privacy storms-one for Google Buzz, one for Street View-in
the past year-plus to be sufficiently chastened and cautious. The last thing it
wants is a new privacy snafu.
For those in
the tech world who may have been living under a rock in the last 48 hours,
green public relations representatives from the venerable Burson-Marstellar
were caught trying to solicit disparaging coverage of Google.
did so on behalf of Facebook, the same company that is being taken
by Congress over a new security
flaw that exposes user data
, and tried to keep it on the down low.
According to The
, Burson-Marstellar pitched bloggers and reporters a story
about how Google's Social Circle
trampled user privacy.
of Google's Social Search product lets people with Google accounts see the
Websites with which their friends and their friends of their friends are
associated. The PR people argued this service infringed on users' privacy
rights by scraping their personal data from other Websites without their
secondary connections are crucial to help Google build out its own social
graph, something its Google Buzz service has failed to successfully achieve at
scale since its launch in February 2010. Search
detailed how this service works.
pitched this to blogger and privacy advocate Christopher Soghoian, who as a
regular critic of Google's privacy practices, actually dismissed the
data-scraping practice as minor and posted the pitch online.
reads, in a serious, sober tone that Social Circle is "designed to scrape
private data and build deeply personal dossiers on millions of users-in a
direct and flagrant violation of [Google's] agreement with the FTC."
"The American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions
into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloging and broadcasting every
minute of every day-without their permission."