Facebook is red faced after hiring PR firm to hit Google

Steve Dinneen
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FACEBOOK has been caught hiring a PR firm to place negative stories in the press about its bitter rival Google.

WPP-owned firm Burson-Marsteller admitted it “undertook an assignment” for Facebook that involved urging a respected US blogger to investigate Google’s privacy policy. Burson-Marsteller said it would help him to place the article in national news outlets in exchange. But Facebook’s plan was shot when the blogger went public with the story, posting a series of emails online.

City A.M. contacted Burson-Marsteller’s US office for a comment. However, in a second embarrassing PR gaffe, the firm mistakenly sent our reporter a link to the Twitter feed of an amateur blogger reading: “Facebook Busted in Clumsy Smear on Google.”

An official statement for the firm said: “This was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined.”

The move underlines the growing antipathy between the two firms and Facebook’s increasing threat to Google’s dominance of online advertising.