Facebook: 'No smear campaign on Google'

Facebook V Google: round, er, one million
Facebook V Google: round, er, one million

Facebook and Google have been at loggerheads this week, with the news that Facebook hired a PR firm to look into Google and its apparent violation of users' privacy causing uproar.

The PR firm in question was the US-based Burson-Marsteller, which was told to pitch the idea to news agencies that Google's Social Circle feature was violating privacy.

Facebook has released a statement with regards to the reasoning behind hiring the PR firm, telling Cnet that it was not trying to muster up a 'smear campaign' against Google but was trying to gauge the reaction of third parties when they found out about Social Circles and the potential privacy problems of the service.

Private parts

"No 'smear' campaign was authorised or intended," explained a Facebook spokesperson.

"Instead, we wanted third parties to verify that people did not approve of the collection and use of information from their accounts on Facebook and other services for inclusion in Google Social Circles – just as Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose.

"We engaged Burson-Marsteller to focus attention on this issue, using publicly available information that could be independently verified by any media organisation or analyst.

"The issues are serious and we should have presented them in a serious and transparent way."

The argument between Facebook and Google all stems from Google stopping Facebook from data-mining its Google Contacts information to put on its site. This, in turn, made Facebook come up with a workaround, which then prompted Google to write a narky statement when users used the workaround, berating Facebook's lack of openness.

The new revelation that Facebook has been hiring a PR firm to look into Google's tactics has definitely left the social network in a pretty poor light, but there's a definite feeling of 'the pot calling the kettle black' from both companies on the issue of privacy.

Via Cnet and The Daily Beast

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.