Facebook Paid for a Secret Anti-Google Smear Campaign

What to do when you're not quite the most popular girl but so desperately want to be prom queen? Start trashing Ms. Perfectpants behind her back! Normal enough for high school. Kind of pathetic if you're Facebook.

The Daily Beast reports today that the mask has been pulled off of the Scooby-Doo monster that's been feeding anti-Google propaganda to journos these last few days, revealing Old Man Facebook's withered visage behind the whole thing. The company hired hotshot public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to urge major news outlets to take a very close look at Google's privacy policy. Bad Facebook, bad!:

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.

The root cause, of course, was that Facebook feels the social sandbox isn't big enough for both it and Google to play in. But the specific issue that flacks were flacking about was Google's Social Circle, which makes public not just your friend's information, but all of that friend's friends details as well. Is that a concern? Maybe! But probably not more so than Facebook's various unfortunate privacy forays into the lives of others.

The icing on top of this sordid cake? One of the implicated Burson-Marsteller reps (which, hey, they were just doing their jobs) was none other than former CNBC reporter and longtime object of Gizmodo ridicule Jim Goldman!

So the whole thing's dirty and sordid and lame, and leaves some superpoked egg on Facebook's, um, face. The joyful irony, if you were looking for that, is that the end result of it all is going to be not just Facebook's reputation getting dinged pretty hard, but a renewed look at its own privacy problems. It may not send them to the back of the class. But they just lost my vote for most likely to succeed. [The Daily Beast]