Google Engineers Offering Free Course in Black PR

Has a competitor launched a new feature that concerns you? If so, how do you react?

Google, well known for their public relations expertise, does not like the idea of Facebook creating an (eventual) distributed ad network based on demographics data. In spite of Google personalizing search by default (without asking), Google opting you into behavioral targeting (without asking), & automatically opting you into Google Buzz (without asking), suddenly they are a company concerned with the privacy of people on *other* networks.

An effective attack typically should not look like it comes from corporate, but sound more like a list of alarmed concerns issued by individuals just like you. And so we get alarmed stories from the likes of Ka-Ping Yee, a software engineer for the charitable arm of Google:

Facebook's new system for connecting together the web seems to have a serious privacy hole, a web developer has discovered.
"It seemed that anyone could get this list. Today, I spent a while checking to make sure I wasn't crazy," he wrote on his blog. "I didn't opt in for this. I even tried setting all my privacy settings for maximum privacy. But Facebook is still exposing the list of events I've attended, and maybe your event."

The best thing to do is disable your Facebook account and wait it out. It is easy to do, and you can always enable it later! :D

Published: April 27, 2010 by Aaron Wall in business


April 27, 2010 - 1:34pm

Passive aggressive mudslinging: definitely NOT evil.

May 6, 2010 - 6:21pm

Let the war begin! Great article and I am shocked actually. Probably shouldn't be but somehow I thought google might have a bit more class than this

April 27, 2010 - 4:00pm

But Google wanted to share our email address book with relative strangers...have you heard the buzz?

Both companies are as bad as each other when it comes to privacy. The fact is that our private information is valuable to big companies like Google and Facebook, and they'll get their hands on it anyway they can.

April 27, 2010 - 4:56pm

It's no secret that links are not a good signal of page quality on today's web. Organic links are just not created at a high enough rate for them to be a useful statistical sample. Once you get into automated and semi-automated linkbuilding, it's pretty amazing how few links you need to point at (individual) long-tail pages in order to rise above the competition that doesn't "build." (don't you just love it how 90% of people on the web think "if you build it they will come?")

The "like" button is an attempt to produce a similar kind of data source. Frankly, I don't think it will work well -> but Google is scared that somebody will invent something like this that works.

April 27, 2010 - 8:07pm

I thought a google wiseman once said:

If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

So why the googler tears and fears? Shouldn't have been on the 'net in the first place.

April 28, 2010 - 2:35am

I am really excited about this contest between G and FB. According to statistics more users for FB than G !

April 28, 2010 - 6:44am
April 28, 2010 - 9:42am

CureDream, good points. Link building in 2010 is as effective as it was 5 years ago. I'm kind of disappointed with that to be honest - I'd have thought Google would have moved on from the link signal, but it seems Google's whole business model is deeply entrenched in the link - which I think doesn't bode well for Google.

April 28, 2010 - 10:06pm

Google can shift to any other signals whenever they want to. Part of the reason there is such an emphasis on links is that by default links tend to be biased toward informational pages and resources...which fill the search results with information so they can have ads targeted against it. Most other signals of popularity would likely have a much stronger bias toward commercial results.

But I think link building in 2010 is much harder than 2005

  • the introduction of rel=nofollow
  • lots of links that would have appeared on blogs moving to the likes of social media sites like Twitter (using nofollow)
  • many people becoming more cynical of marketing and aware of SEO
May 6, 2010 - 6:19pm

I am also disappointed to hear that money is the main factor of search placement. Doesn't say much for the quality of search or Google for that matter. :(. Personally I thought they would come up with some a little more ingenious that was content seemed like they were on that path for a while

April 28, 2010 - 10:45am

When I glanced over the news of MC closing his FB account, it was a bit suspicious, but I couldn't even imagine it's a PR stunt. Man, you must have a pretty high level of [s]paranoya[/s] awareness :)

April 28, 2010 - 5:29pm

Koooooool aid. You gotta really identify with your company to go to such an extent.

April 28, 2010 - 6:18pm


the big trouble with both links and the like button is that they take work on the part of the user.

To get a decent statistical sample of the quality of an item or the relationship between two items, you really need to have at least 30 evaluations of each item or relationship. User engagement just isn't high enough for any kind of active feedback to get sampling that good of typical web content.

Google's measuring the bounce rate from Google Analytics is basically useless. If you go to a page and it gives you the answer you want, you might jump off in 10 seconds, a very happy camper. If you go to a page and it's total spammy junk, it looks exactly the same to GA.

Now, add eye tracking, some snooping of your global desktop activity, and maybe a brains scanner and you might be getting passive measurements that are worth something...

I'm a little more practical minded about things that work. The next content gen pipeline I'm researching is something that makes web directories like DMOZ and Yahoo but doesn't need those pesky editors. All I can tell you is that it deals with the "poverty of the stimulus" by grouping items semantically and doing something that's like stratified sampling in reverse...

April 29, 2010 - 4:44am

But I think link building in 2010 is much harder than 2005

* the introduction of rel=nofollow
* lots of links that would have appeared on blogs moving to the likes of social media sites like Twitter (using nofollow)
* many people becoming more cynical of marketing and aware of SEO

@Aaron, I hear what you're saying, but rel=nofollow surely only affects links you have no say in (e.g. natural links from a WordPress blog) I know you know only too well that SEOs / link builders aren't just relying on "link bait" - they're proactively soliciting and negotiating links all the time - links they DO have a say in. In my opinion, the vast majority of links are quid-pro-quo deals - be it reciprocal links, paid, some kind of favour going on. I'm talking about e-commerce sites and run-of-the-mill sites here that generally have difficulty in winning natural links (even the viral marketing stuff looks naff and overdone these days).

@CureDream - your ideas sound compelling...I guess the disappointment I have with Google's basic signals is that they are essentially easy to game just by throwing money in the direction of somebody, rather than what links were truly meant to convey i.e. a sign that the page the link points to is valuable i.e. entertaining / compelling / informative pages won the most links. Now however, the link signal tends to indicate that the top ranking sites have invested in their rankings (paid reviews on Yahoo! /, paid SEOs for behind the scenes links etc). I look at Google results and don't see a meritocratic system where the best float to the top through honing content, but...and as we all know....thin content is fine if you have enough authority links.

May 3, 2010 - 5:50pm


Until pretty recently, Google didn't have any real competition in the search space. Like a lot of SEO people I'd be disgusted with Google the company, say I'm going to swear off Google for a week... But then I'd try Yahoo and MSN and it would be so bad I couldn't manage to do two or three searches before running back to the big G.

Bing is competitive, probably not as good overall as Google, but sometimes better. It's taking a while for people to get the message, and in the meantime, Google is going to please the street by getting as much revenue as they can out of the traffic.

So they want the SERPs to be a bit like a domain parking site... Not really all that good, enough that you'll get frustrated with the SERPs and take your chances with the PPC ads.

While Matt Cutts is going to do some occasional grandstanding, Google isn't going to upset the status quo here until they start feeling real pressure from Bing or somebody else... In fact, the "common man" may never be discriminating enough to demand more from a search engine than Google gives now.

October 21, 2010 - 12:13am

The above board folks at Google continue their black public relations campaign against Facebook by launching Facebook disconnect.

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