Samizdata - 3:02 pm on May 13, 2011 (gmt 0)
As far as we know, this "facebook paid a pr firm to smear google" could be a lie, started by a PR firm that works for google
Those who have actually read the article may have spotted this passage:
Paul Cordasco, a spokesman for Burson-Marsteller, told the Guardian on Thursday that the assignment was "not at all standard operating procedure" and was against the company's policies. He added: "The assignment on those terms should have been declined."
Cordasco confirmed to the Guardian that "the assignment" was now terminated and that Burson-Marsteller was no longer working with the social network.
Admittedly, nobody asked to see the spokesman's birth certificate.
Were they misleading people?
They offered to "ghost write" damaging stories about a business competitor, which were to be planted in the mainstream media masquerading as objective journalism (while keeping the fact that FaceBook was behind it a secret).
And the PR company has form in this area:
Burson-Marsteller is no stranger to anti-Google stories. In 2007, Microsoft admitted that it had an "ongoing relationship" with the firm, which had been lobbying a number of top UK businesses to raise the issue of Google's dominance in search.
The company confirmed to the Observer at the time that it worked with Microsoft to launch a new organisation – the Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces – that made a series of announcements relating to Google.
In this case, too, Burson-Marsteller did not disclose which company it was working for until challenged.
As I said, it's a jungle out there.