Facebook Hired PR Firm to Trash Google

May 13, 2011  |  

(Wall Street Journal) — Facebook Inc. used controversial tactics to try to shift the online privacy spotlight away from itself—and onto rival Google Inc. The social-networking company secretly hired a public-relations firm to push stories critical of Google’s privacy practices. But the strategy backfired when bloggers and journalists disclosed Facebook’s behind-the-scenes role, forcing the company to explain its tactics.  Facebook hired WPP Group PLC’s Burson-Marsteller to pitch journalists and security experts on stories that questioned Google’s practice of collecting information from people’s Facebook and other social-networking accounts.  Rosanna Fiske, the chief executive of the nonprofit Public Relations Society of America, said Burson-Marsteller’s lack of disclosure is “deceptive” and violates her organization’s ethical standards.  “When you are following misleading practices, the message is tainted,” she said. Consumers “wonder what else have they done that perhaps I shouldn’t trust.”

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