Hired PR firm to drum up anti-Google press

Facebook’s Google ‘smear campaign’ exposed

Facebook hired public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to try get the press onside regarding Google’s strategy of collecting information from Facebook.

The episode began to unfold on Tuesday when USA Today reported on the Burson-Marsteller representatives which had offered to ghost write opinion piece articles criticising Google’s ‘Social Circle’ feature.

The paper was at the time unaware of the Burson-Marsteller client but said that the campaign highlighted the "delicate balancing act Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple face as they rush to profit from cutting-edge Internet services that tap into consumer data."

Today the Daily Beast revealed the client as none-other than social networking giant Facebook, adding that the "sorry, clumsy episode" made the social networking giant seem "a little afraid" of arch-rival Google.

Having been caught out Facebook issued a statement saying: "No ‘smear’ campaign was authorized or intended," going on to claim that Facebook users had not given Google permission to use information on public profiles.

"We engaged Burson-Marsteller to focus attention on this issue, using publicly available information that could be independently verified by any media organization or analyst," they added.

Facebook’s response was greeted with derision by Tech Crunch’s MG Siegler who said: "I’m not sure I’ve ever read something so disingenuous."

Seigler said the campaign showed a "willingness by Facebook to engage in cowardly behavior in battle," adding that the firm had "lost most face" following the episode.

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