Facebook Denies 'Smear' Campaign Against Google

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Facebook vs. Google: 'Whisper Campaigns' Are Risky Tactic, Expert Says

It also makes it difficult to trust the company if they show a willingness to "engage in cowardly behavior in battle," he said. While some of the criticisms against Google might be valid, he said this latest incident means that the story becomes Facebook's folly -- not alleged privacy violations by Google.

Irving Schenkler, a professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, said that because so-called "smear" or "whisper" campaigns can easily backfire, they can be very chancy for companies.

"It's not a strategy, it's a tactic," he said. "It can really come back to bite a company in a very severe way."

While companies may frequently hire public relations firms to encourage reporters to write stories favorable their cause (and negative to the competition's), Schenkler said, "The innuendo is what characterizes the whisper."

Negative campaigns have tarnished the reputations of the companies connected to them in the past, he said, but it's possible that Facebook will emerge largely unsullied.

"It depends on who you are, what your value proposition is and how you're trying to position yourself and who's likely to hear this," he said. "In terms of who's using Facebook, I'm not sure it's going to be a big matter at all."

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