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Facebook caught in Google smear campaign

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-12

The social network Facebook admitted on Thursday it had hired a PR company to damage the reputation of the Internet giant Google, citing "concerns" that it was breaching the privacy of Internet users to promote its own social-networking feature.

AFP - Facebook hired a public relations firm to pitch negative stories about Google to US news outlets, The Daily Beast reported on Thursday.

PR firm Burson-Marsteller reached out to a number of journalists on behalf of client Facebook urging them to look into claims Google was invading privacy, the website said.

The campaign was uncovered after a blogger turned down the offer from Burson-Marsteller and posted emails of an exchange with the firm.

"The American people must be made aware of the now immediate intrusions into their deeply personal lives Google is cataloging and broadcasting every minute of every day -- without their permission," one of the emails said.

A Facebook spokesman confirmed to The Daily Beast that the social network had hired Burson-Marsteller because of privacy concerns over Google's social networking efforts and because of the search giant's attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking efforts.

"We are concerned that Google may be improperly using data they have scraped about Facebook users," the Facebook spokesman was quoted as saying.

Google's social networking efforts have largely been unsuccessful while Facebook has been caught up in several privacy controversies of its own.

Burson-Marsteller, in the emails, claimed that a new Google tool called Social Circle was violating the privacy of users. Social Circle lets Gmail users see information about their friends and friends of their friends.

Burson-Marsteller claimed in the emails that Social Circle was "designed to scrape private data and build deeply personal dossiers on millions of users."

Burson-Marsteller chief executive Mark Penn was the chief strategist of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Date created : 2011-05-12

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