On Thursday US-based news website the Daily Beast, discovered that Facebook embarked on a smear campaign against Google.
The social network has admitted that it hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller in order to plant anti-Google stories related to user privacy about the Google service Social Circle.
The PR firm approached several people, including blogger Chris Soghoian, who did not want to pursue the story but released the e-mail exchange.
It was followed by a lot of rumors about who the client could be, with Microsoft and Apple in the frame, but the Daily Beast found out that it was Facebook.
Although the social network has confirmed that it used Burson-Marsteller to expose things which Google was doing that “raised privacy concerns”, it denied that it had authorised a smear campaign.
“Instead, we 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 — just as Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose,” the company said.
In the e-mails to Mr Soghoian, the PR firm said : “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.”
Facebook and Google failed to agree on ways to share data and became bitter rivals.
They both have scrutiny over their privacy policies.
It is a very public play-out of two net giants who have become bitter rivals as they fail to agree on ways to share data.
Both have faced scrutiny over their privacy policies.
According to managing director of Spreckley PR, Richard Merrin, this very public play-out is not a good idea.
“I am just trying to imagine the conversation that took place between someone at Facebook and the PR agency in question. I always advise clients that the one thing they must not do is attack the competition,” he said.
“This alleged PR smear campaign is the latest highly public example of what many in the industry believe to be the biggest grudge match going in corporate America.”
But Mr Merrin also said that even though these revelations will be highly damaging for Burson-Marsteller, they won’t change Facebook’s image.
“Let’s not forget we are talking about two companies that have spent billions in positioning themselves as ‘nice, cuddly, sandal-wearing, Californian surfer dudes.’ This has in fact resulted in blowing that carefully constructed image out of the water.”
Neither Facebook nor Google commented further on this story.