Report: Facebook hired PR firm to smear Google

You know the tagline—you don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies. Mark Zuckerberg might have made a mighty foe indeed out of Google, after his company reportedly hired a public relations firm to spread negative stories about Google's privacy record. At least, that's what The Daily Beast is reporting.

According to the site, PR firm Burson-Marsteller "offered to help an influential blogger write a Google-bashing op-ed, which it promised it could place in outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, and The Huffington Post." The blogger turned around and posted the firm's e-mails publicly, revealing the smear campaign's existence but not its ultimate source. The identity of the company who retained Burson's services remained under wraps.

Well, The Daily Beast now claims a Facebook spokesman confirmed that his company was the one who hired Burson. The spokesman even volunteered an explanation:

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.

Judging by the allegedly leaked Burson e-mails, the privacy smear campaign centered on Google's Social Circle feature. Bloggers weren't the only ones targeted, either. USA Today reported yesterday that it, too, had been contacted by Burson about the story.

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