Facebook admits anti-Google PR campaign

The company has admitted to hiring a public-relations consultancy to expose supposed flaws in Google's privacy practices

Facebook has owned up to hiring a public-relations consultancy to expose supposed flaws in Google's privacy practices.

Burson-Marsteller confirmed on Thursday it was hired to run a smear campaign in which major news outlets would be sent pitches highlighting potential privacy and legal issues involving Google's social-networking service, Social Circles. The feature enables users to view publicly available information of other users who are connected to their Google Chat and Contacts, and includes data such as Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds and personal websites.

Ryan Lim, business director of social-media marketing agency Blugrapes, said the latest development is unlikely to have any immediate impact on Facebook users or the advertising industry, as media plans are based on the ability to effectively reach consumers, rather than the media's credibility in the market. However, he noted that "such covert actions and smear approach" could be interpreted as the company's fear of its competitors, especially those that pose a serious threat.

On Thursday, The Daily Beast reported that a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the company had initiated the PR campaign.

For more on this ZDNet UK-selected story, see Facebook admits running campaign against Google on ZDNet Asia.

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