There has been a buzz recently in the blogosphere about Facebook and its implications for public relations. But what about the site’s own PR tactics? The last few days the social networking site has taken a few punches in Swedish media because users have put up fake profiles of famous Swedes. First, there was fashion journalist Sofi Fahrman who realized she had a very realistic profile on Facebook. Some of her closest friends had been invited to connect, only it wasn’t the real Fahrman who was behind the profile. Then the Swedish king, Carl XVI Gustaf, received the same treatment, even though it was quite easy to tell this one wasn’t the real thing. Today, the leading Swedish news site Aftonbladet.se follows up with a new article, stating that Mona Sahlin (leader of the Social Democratic Party), Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, former Prime Minister Göran Persson and a bunch of other celebrities all have fake Facebook profiles.
Questions about identity theft and online security strike at the heart of social networking sites’ brands and can’t be neglected even if they’re from a small country in northern Europe. But when Dagens Nyheter and Aftonbladet try to get in touch with Facebook they get the silent treatment. No reply.
“DN has tried to reach Facebook for a comment, without success.”
“Aftonbladet has tried to get in touch with representatives of Facebook without getting a response.”
This is obviously a missed opportunity to manage this upcoming crisis situation. I expect that Facebook will need to increase their PR efforts if they want to continue to challenge MySpace in the social networing arena.
Footnote: Jeremy Pepper wrote about Facebook’s poor PR more than a year ago.