Facebook Hired PR Firm to Trash Google

Google and Facebook company logosThe technology sector has had its share of interesting rivalries over the years. Microsoft vs Oracle. Microsoft vs Apple. Google vs Microsoft. The list goes on and on. Some of the rivalries have taken on a lighter tone, while some have turned outright nasty.

A new bitter rivalry exploded into the spotlight yesterday - Facebook vs Google.

On one side you have Google, the $172 billion search engine giant that desperately wants to shake its "one-trick pony" label.

On the other side you have Facebook, the social networking giant that has more than 500 million active users.

Google desperately wants to a big splash in the social networking space, while Facebook desperately wants to keep them out.

Yesterday it was revealed that Facebook had hired a PR firm (Burson-Marsteller) to spread negative press about Google. Specifically, Burson-Marsteller was charged with the task of spreading word that "Google was invading people's privacy" via its "Social Circle" tool.

Burson-Marsteller reportedly contacted an "influential blogger" by the name of Chris Soghoian as part of its campaign to rake Google through the mud. Burson-Marsteller "offered to help write an op-ed" trashing Google - this op-ed apparently would have been run in outlets such as the Washington Post and Politico.

Soghoian asked who was behind the anti-Google campaign, but Burson-Marsteller wouldn't reveal the name of their client. So, instead of helping to write the op-ed, Soghoian published the email exchange instead.

It was later revealed that the mystery client was Facebook. When "confronted with evidence", a Facebook representative claimed that they had, in fact, hired Burson-Marsteller. The reason for them initiating a PR campaign against Google? From the Daily Beast:

"First, because it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, because Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service."

According to Google, their Social Circle tool "helps you discover relevant content from your social connections, a set of your online friends and contacts." Burson-Marsteller was claiming that Social Circle was "designed to scrape private data and build deeply personal dossiers on millions of users—in a direct and flagrant violation of [Google's] agreement with the FTC."

Facebook may have raised privacy concerns as their first reason for starting this PR campaign against Google, but the main reason was really the fact that they are pissed that Google is using Facebook's user data for the service.


It will be interesting to see where the Facebook/Google battle goes from here. These are two well-funded and well-connected tech giants that are waging a battle for the all-important social networking space. Anything could happen.

Source: The Daily Beast - Facebook Busted in Clumsy Smear on Google

Filed under: General Market News

Related Articles