The Daily Beast is reporting that Facebook hired Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm, to secretly spread bad press about Google. The plan backfired when Burson attempted to get a blogger to post anti-Google stories, but instead of cooperating, the blogger posted the emails from Burson.
As evidence mounted that someone was trying to get people to write articles about Google invading users’ privacy, The Daily Beast went to Facebook, and they couldn’t deny the obvious:
Confronted with evidence, a Facebook spokesman last night confirmed that Facebook hired Burson, citing two reasons: 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.
There are a number of good ways to go about attacking a competitor, secretly hiring a PR firm to spread stories isn’t one of them. This is one of those blunders that takes years to overcome, and in the end, all Facebook did was make Google look better. It’s about to be a very, very, long day for Mark Zuckerberg.