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Facebook has been caught secretly paying a top public relations firm to plant negative stories about Google in the US media.
Burson-Marsteller, one of the world's largest PR firms, attempted to get USA Today, the Washington Post and other high profile US news outlets to write scaremongering stories about Google's privacy policies.
The explosive revelation – which will seriously damage relations between the two technology giants, already bitter rivals – came to light in leaked emails late on Wednesday. Facebook later confirmed to the Daily Beast that it had hired Burson-Marsteller.
It has been revealed that Facebook embarked on a smear campaign against rival Google.
The social network has admitted that it hired a PR firm to plant anti-Google stories related to user privacy...
[PR firm]Burson told Mr Soghain, among others, that "the American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloguing and broadcasting every minute of every day - without their permission."
[edited by: walkman at 5:39 pm (utc) on May 12, 2011]
Imagine a detective sifting through all your searches that Google saves for 18 months, no doubt along with every other bit of info.
I hiring a PR firm to spread paranoia about your competitor legal? If it's not Facebook is about to face some serious charges. It sounds like the admittance was because they knew the secret was out.
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
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.
Were they misleading people?
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.
A company that regularly breaches your privacy hires a PR company to talk about another company that regularly breaches your privacy. Makes sense.Yes, it does make sense. They are trying to change the context. Facebook knows it's going to hit the fan soon and they want people to yawn.
I'm sure GOOG does the same.
They are always battling with each other. I will not be surprised that Google will be doing the same thing back.
Much better that they're attacking each other over privacy, than if they spoke as an industry group and played down privacy concerns. GOOG/FB/MSFT would be a terrifying oligopoly.