What is really behind Facebook's dirty tricks campaign against Google?

Facebook’s exposure for attempting to promote negative stories about Google’s Social Circle service is one of the most curious stories to break this year.

The question on most people’s minds is: Why did they go about it in such an underhanded way?

Facebook claims it merely wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles.

Not that Facebook can claim any moral high ground on privacy issues, but if this truly was its aim, why not be upfront about it for the good of the online community?

This is the online age, after all, so instead of going to all the trouble, and no doubt expense, of hiring a PR company when Facebook could have simply blogged about the issue.

Facebook could easily have reached out to its 500m users, so it is particularly curious that it chose instead to employ dirty tactics that would normally be associated with a weak and desperate company.

The biggest irony, perhaps, is that Facebook has been pushing users to open up more of their data to share with everyone, and yet is now claiming to be concerned about Google Social Circles, which clearly has similar aims.

None of this really adds up. In reality, being caught out in this way is unlikely to do any real damage to Facebook, which seems almost unassailable, but hopefully we will still find out what Facebook was really up to.