There are so many fun headlines possibilities for today's news about Facebook secretly hiring a top PR firm to smear Google in an effort to quash some of their efforts on the social front:
- Googlegate: Facebook's Nixon-Style Campaign Against Its Biggest Rival
- Once, Twice, Three Times As Shady: The Latest in Facebook's War on Google
- Mark Zuckerberg Is So Worried About Your Privacy, He Wants to Stymie Google's Social Efforts
But those aren't the kind of headlines Facebook paid for! The Daily Beast has confirmed rumors that the tech giant was behind an obnoxiously obvious campaign to smear Google in the press. To make matters worse for Facebook, the story they wanted to spread is the same one that's sullied Facebook's reputation: "sweeping violations of user privacy."
The fiasco started when blogger and privacy advocate Christopher Soghoian posted a suspicious email exchange he'd had with a representative from Burston Marsteller, one of the world's biggest PR agencies. (Burson's CEO Mark Penn served as chief strategist in Hilary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid.) The agency had offered to help Soghoian write and disseminate to top press outlets a blog post exposing how Google has been invading and profiting from its users' privacy. USA Today followed up a week later confirming suspicions that the "whisper campaign" not only existed but was in fact quite widespread and drew the connection to Google's war with Facebook on the social front. Burson refused to reveal the name of the company that had hired them for the campaign.