May 11, 2011

Attempt to Involve Me in Anti-Google "Astroturf Lies" PR Campaign

Blog Update (May 12, 2011): Facebook Embraces J. Edgar Hoover: Anti-Google Lie Campaign Revealed

I originally had not planned to say anything about this publicly -- as I've mentioned previously I'm in the process of scaling back as many non-high priority activities as possible until such a time as the situation here can somehow be improved, but this is worth noting.

A story is blowing up now about an apparent covert "astroturf" campaign to plant a false privacy-related anti-Google story in the mainstream media.

A good backgrounder on this is: BUSTED: Former CNBC Tech Reporter Jim Goldman Caught Spreading Lies About Google For Unnamed PR Client.

In fact, a direct attempt was made to suck me into this about a week ago. I received email from a CNBC Producer asking, essentially, if I had any privacy-related dirt regarding the Google "Social Circle" feature for a story CNBC was working on.

I told him that other than my feeling that the related features could be better explained in ways that would help avoid user confusion (in general, I'm on record as believing that Google needs to do a better job in the documentation and user support areas, as you probably know), I did not see any intrinsic privacy problems with "Social Circle," and in fact I believed it was a user-positive feature to help people understand the social connections that they had already created.

I also offered to provide him with more details about how the Google social features related to all this worked and were actually of benefit to users.

Uncharacteristically for most media contacts, I never heard back from him, not even a "thank you" note.

Shortly thereafter, word started coming in that some sort of "astroturf" lie-spreading campaign was apparently in progress. In the week since, it has become obvious that this was much more organized than it may have appeared at first glance.

As far as I know, the actual identity of the client who triggered all this through the Burson-Marsteller PR firm has not yet been revealed.

I really don't appreciate attempts to involve me in fake stories or false pretenses. Some of you may recall back in 2004 when Viacom (Comedy Central, as it turned out) directly lied to me in a (nearly successful) effort to get me onto what I discovered to be a fake debate show (from my blog: Viacom/MTV Networks' "The Debate Show" Fraud, and detailed chronology here. USA Today's take on that story is here.)

I have a very similar feeling about this current case as I did with those Viacom lies. I am extremely interested in finding out who was the attempted astroturf "puppet master" behind this new false propaganda effort.


Blog Update (May 12, 2011): Facebook Embraces J. Edgar Hoover: Anti-Google Lie Campaign Revealed

Posted by Lauren at May 11, 2011 09:38 AM | Permalink
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