Does Anybody Really Care About Facebook's P.R. Fumble?

For more than 24 hours, journalists, flacks, and Google employees have been all in a tizzy over Facebook's supposedly dirty public relations move. Most people though, could care less about it.

For more than 24 hours, journalists, flacks, and Google employees have been all in a tizzy over Facebook’s supposedly dirty public relations move. Most people though, could care less about it.

For those who still aren’t aware of the story, we’ll provide a little bit of background. Facebook hired P.R. firm, Burson-Marsteller, to complete a whisper campaign about how Google was violating users’ privacy by scraping Facebook as part of one of their products: Social Circles (a product I’ve never even heard of).

Facebook and Burson-Marsteler supposedly violated public relations disclosure standards by contacting journalists without disclosing that Facebook was the company behind the campaign. Really slimy, right?

While journalists and public relations experts know that this is a dirty tactic, it’s a strategy employed by some of the largest corporations. Phillip Morris, everybody’s favorite company, uses these tactics all the time, and it isn’t alone. Phillip Morris clearly sets the ethical standards for corporations today. Alright, maybe not, but what’s strange is that Facebook used its dirty tactics ammo on something that most people could care less about to begin with.

In addition to not caring about the privacy issue at hand, consumers confirmed, in our entirely unscientific poll yesterday, that they could care less about Facebook’s P.R. fiasco. While this doesn’t mean that Facebook’s actions were justifiable, it suggests that the widespread coverage of the blunder may be a bit overblown.

Facebook Looks Bad Enough

Let’s be honest: The blunder makes Facebook looks pretty bad. It highlights the substantial tension between the company and Google and has only exacerbated the problem. Howeve,r calls for Facebook to explain itself will most definitely go unanswered. Engaging the press in an ongoing dialogue about why the decision to hire Burson-Marsteller for this job was a bad one, is only going to make things worse.

In the mean time, the company will simply sit back, take a couple punches, and brush things off. There’s also a good chance that Facebook will refrain from pulling the same tactics again anytime in the near future.