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Google has its fair share of competitors across a wide range of industries, most of whom would probably be more than happy to put the boot in on them. Whilst these undercover operations are far from uncommon, it is extremely rare that they are ever uncovered.
Well, that’s exactly what has happened. And if that wasn’t surprising enough in itself, the source of this ‘secret’ smear campaign certainly is. No it’s not Microsoft; a company battling tooth and nail in a number of key technology fields, not least in search, internet browsers and operating systems. It’s not even Google’s newest nemesi Apple, who are actively engaged in smartphone and tablet warfare.
In fact, the company looking to dig up some dirt on Google was actually found to be Facebook.
Considering the recent ‘successes’ that Google has had within the social networking sphere, it’s a little surprising that Facebook felt the need to undergo a smear campaign. However, that’s exactly what they did – as revealed in The Daily Beast.
This skulduggery was perpetrated by representatives of leading PR agency Burson-Marsteller. It seems that the social networking giant decided it was unhappy with Google siphoning data from its site as well as having concerns over the security of user information through ‘Circle’ – the friends of friends system Google developed.
Unfortunately, it quickly went from a covert whisper campaign to a rather loud and overt embarrassment. Worst of all, the admission of guilt from Facebook has successfully deflected any attention from the search engine’s activities. Therefore, even if there are issues that should be looked into more closely, the impetus to do so has been lost somewhat.
As previously mentioned, it would be rather foolish to assume that this is an isolated instance. Everybody wants to get a competitive advantage, whatever it takes. Whilst most tactics are out in the public domain and fully above board, you can be sure that a little subterfuge is going on behind the scenes.
For Facebook, this should serve as a valuable and humbling lesson. The rivalry has been cranked up a notch or two with this revelation and you can be pretty sure that both sides will be looking to gain the upper hand in the months to come. Things should certainly get interesting from now on.
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.