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May 12, 2011

Facebook caught out in Google smear campaign

by Darren Allan

Facebook has reportedly been involved in hiring a PR firm to engage in a campaign against Google, it has emerged.

It became clear there was a smear campaign against Google underway when a blogger, Chris Soghoian, was contacted by a PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, who urged him to publish an anti-Google privacy piece.

The PR machine even promised to place the piece for him in outlets such as The Huffington Post, but Soghain was having none of it, and went ahead and published the emails between him and the firm.

The question then became who had hired the big bad PR wolf to snarl at Google’s door, and the Daily Beast, appropriately enough, sniffed out the answer.

While many suspected Microsoft or Apple, turns out it was Facebook. When the Daily Beast confronted the social network with “evidence” (what that was is unspecified), a spokesman admitted to hiring Burson-Marsteller.

The spokesman said the action had been taken because Google is doing things in social networking which raise privacy concerns. There’s definitely some truth in that (and probably even more truth if you just end that sentence at social networking).

And the other primary reason given was that Facebook has got the hump over Google’s attempts to use the Facebook’s data in its social networking manoeuvres.

Obviously we’d be hugely naïve to think that anyone in big business is squeaky clean, or anywhere close to it, but this is a very embarrassing one for Facebook.

While neither company is saying anything about the incident in public, Larry Page will no doubt be reminding Zuckerberg that he shouldn’t be evil.

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