back to article Facebook 'smear' shock: Journos aghast!

Newspaper readers will be appalled to discover that a blushing, innocent maiden in Silicon Valley has had her reputation besmirched by a wicked rival. Facebook's PR agency attempted to spin a blogger to write an unfavourable story about rival Google. It's caused an outpouring of distress from Her Majesty's Press today, acting at …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Tweets and Facebook not 100% truthful???

    OMG. Why have we not heard this before? Not sure which is more appropriate:

    *Look of fear* or *GASP*

    (We really, really need a "Meh" icon. Until then, where is my coat?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You should

      Just stick to Wikipedia!

  2. John G Imrie


    Who do PR agencies go to when they need some good PR?

  3. Ashton Black
    Paris Hilton

    Nice analysis.

    I tend to agree.

    Shouldn't the actual content of the allegation be the test, rather than it's source? I mean if it's untrue, it's a smear if it's true then so what if it was a PR company hiring a blogger?

    Paris, because there are certain things I'd smear.... etc

  4. Colin Millar

    'Tis the evil interwebs

    I don't think the journos in question have a particular brief for or against Google or Facebook. I think they just know that they can blog for days about the latest internet spat and save themselves having to do some real work.

    The biggest effect the web has had on older media forms seems to be a complete removal of the ability to prioritise something important over irrelevant tat and gossip.

    This is to be expected in the online world where bloggers can't see past the end of their own obsessions but the print press only defence against becoming the junior media partner was lost when it turned against any remaining quality professional reporting and embraced the world of crowd-sourcing, blogging and social-networking.

    So we end up with a bunch of self-referential and self-reinforcing cliques determining what is news and what the news is. They dictate what subjects are of interest and then they determine what the accepted truth is about those subjects.

    Its hardly surpsrising that there seems to be less and less room for any middle ground between the fanbois and the haters - "pick your side and rant away" seems to have replaced "all the news that's fit to print".

  5. DT

    kettle meet pot

    One is like the Mafia; demanding protection from every shop in the street.

    The other is like a "friend of the family" who takes obscene liberties after being left the keys to your house.

    It doesn't take the bastard child of Malcolm Tucker to come up with far better, accurate descriptors than the "smears" in the papers.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just because it is commonplace......

    doesn't mean it's okay, or that we should accept it. On the rare occasions that this type of PR smear campaign is proven the companies responsible need to be highlighted, mocked and punished by any laws we can throw at them. It's the only way people can send a message that it's not acceptable behaviour.

    That the media are so aghast (or appearing to be) at this may show naivety or worse, but the fact that they are highlighting a practice which I believe most people find repulsive is a good thing.

  7. Heff

    For my part

    It was more a surprise that FB hired a firm so incredibly incompetent as to do something like this. Media manipulation amongst competitors isn't a new thing, and the surge of hacks rushing to make clear that they would never, ever do such a thing, and that this is a vile calumny perpetuated by Facebook, which tarnishes us all blahblahblah is pretty fucking disingenuous.

    Google is big, and pursues its own agenda, as does FB. I thoroughly expect them to send out feelers and fuck with the others public perception. to have them do it so badly that we need to pretend that it doesn't happen at all is embarrassing. Its like trying to get a woman interested in you : sure, you hide the bad and emphasis the good, but you don't yell at the top of your voice that you're an astronaut made of money with a 12 foot dick.

    subtlety, guys.

  8. Chris 3

    Sounds to me as if...

    El Reg is just a bit peeved that it missed a story to me. And clearly this *is* a story, because people are talking about it. Saying "Ah, well of course *everyone* knows these things go on daaahling" doesn't quite cut the mustard.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Sounds to me as if...

      Saying "Ah, well of course *everyone* knows these things go on daaahling" ...

      But everyone does, unless you've just arrived from Mars.

      Why do PR companies exist? Do they exist only to talk the happy talk? That is such a naive point of view I don't find it credible.

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Err, no..

      .. I think El Reg didn't bother to comment on this because the event itself isn't a story. It's a "duh" of PR management, where complete morons have cocked up something that is actually commonplace - something that anyone with half a brain can easily see.

      But hey, sorry I woke you up. You can go back to sleep now.

  9. Ian Yates


    are you saying Google planted this story to (smear/slur/etc.) Facebook?

    /looks aghast

  10. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I nearly fell off my chair with this one.

      I'm sure you're just being sarcastic otherwise I you probably still believe in Santa Claus.

      If it's the second, well it's time you grew out of it. You can start by reading the links conveniently listed in the second paragraph of this article. Get a glass of wine or 20 and clear your weekend commitments, you have a lot to catch up on.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Smear campaign?

    The journalists were reporting on Google's privacy policy for their new service. Exaggerating the thruth maybe, but not lying.

    If Google didn't like it maybe they could try to intrude less in people's private lives.

    While the original story might have been paid off by Facebook to me it appears the subsequent "leak" was paid for by Google to minimise the impact of these allegations and shift the public attention elsewhere.

    Which is great news for reporters I guess, they stand to make money both ways.

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      Their new, two-year-old service that no one uses? That new service?

      Since Andrew's story is a little short on facts, here's an alternate perspective:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Facts indeed

        I disagree with you saying no-one uses the service, since every users Google profile is there. Essentially if you have a gmail address or google login you're part of the Social Circle.

        It's pretty easy to see your Secondary Connections for example, but I don't get why should Google even be compiling this information.

        It's also really hard to opt out as this interesting discussion shows:

        or do a search for "Social Circle opt out" for more

        As for it being 2 years old, AFAIK it only really came about in August last year when Google decided to plug some "social results" onto their main search.

        But hey if you find where I can opt out of it do let me know.

      2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Facts?

        Cold-calling a random blogger with the dirt may well be a new standard in corporate stupidity.

        Cold-calling a journalist with the dirt is a daily event, though, and is not news.

        This is the point you have missed, as an outsider, or don't want to see. As I wrote in the piece - why do you think PR companies exist?

  12. Gannon (J.) Dick
    IT Angle

    I thought ...

    ... it was an old joke making the rounds again:

    Q: What's the difference between Capitalism and Communism ?

    A: Under Capitalism man exploits man, but Under Communism exactly the opposite.

    The only thing missing from this sordid tale is the opinion of the Virgin Queen herself. Has anyone asked Steve Jobs what he thinks ? There's your angle Mr. Editor.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Thanks for that write-up, Andrew.

    There is actually a lot more to this story than appears to the naked eye. I actually suspect that a leak at Google has generated this frantic attempt by Farcebook to smear the company. It may take some time for this to become visible to the world, though, but just keep in mind you heard it here first..

    Facebook is right to be worried.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "hypocrisy of the posh press"

    They know which side their bread's buttered.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real story here

    Is the amount of information Google collects to build your Social Circle.

    Check it here:

    I have over 1000 "Secondary contacts" with a mind blowing number of links to their information.

    There is no opt out other than remove your contacts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bye Google contacts

      The first thing I had to do when I got my Android phone was to delete all my google contacts.

      I do enjoy google products but a self-generating contacts list from email really irriatates, before Android it didn't really effect me, as it was out of sight.

      Maybe it's just me who wants to select who I add to my contact list - even Facebook at least allows you to confirm or deny friends!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    You don't see it because you're in it?

    As titled, I think the writer here is showing disagreement to press reporting moral indecency because he's actually in this circle thus it becomes harder to see why other press are making it news worthy when it IS clearly not uncommon to him as he had said.

    Personally I do think this smear campaign is news worthy because the majority of plebs in this world does not like being duped.

    Whether the plebs are normally intelligent enough to decide by negating media influence is another thing. But this sort of act essentially amounts to the level of false advertising.

    Another thing of note is that this story spreaded within the social networks and places like twitter hours before it became general news. I know this because I participated in the spreading of this news, further enforcing the fact that the general populace thinks this is an indecent act that needs to be known and should be acted upon.

    I won't give credit to any other media firm aside from the original leaker, the press seem to me simply picking up something that has gotten major attention on the net and made it general news.

    And finally food for thought, what's to say any article we read about this story now on the opposite view is not a PR attempt at repairing the damage from the original leak.

    Paris 'cause I sense a cat fight.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lost in a world of leaks

      What's the original leak? That Google keeps our "Social Circle" around with no opt-out? There's a link somewhere in the comments. This is what's NOT being adequately reported.

      I've stopped trusting what I see in the media a long time ago. If there's an article written on something at the end of the day someone paid for it. As I read it online and didn't pay for it (and even I did the price of most subscription alone wouldn't cut it), who did?

      We'll only have true media when all articles come with a well detailed money trail, with a criminal sentence should editors try to mess with it. Now this is not ever going to happen (politicians are forever in debt to journalists) so you might as well do research on your own and take all news as mere indicators.

      1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Lost in a world of leaks

        Good point. Although this is the probably the most inept piece of PR work I've ever heard, this is deserves highlighting: and has got lost in the noise.

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