Both the internet giants Facebook and Google have been trying to out-do each other for some time, but so far the efforts of each were kept secret. A recent piece of information has, however, brought out the rivalry into the open and put Facebook to shame.
Burson-Marsteller got in touch with a number of bloggers including one Christopher Soghoian and asked him to blog about Google’s policy with respect to user privacy. They even offered to help the blogger write out the article and they also promised to get it published in important places such as the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.
Unfortunately for them, Soghoian turned down the offer and instead posted the emails online for the world to see.
Email sent to Christopher Soghoian by Burson-Marsteller
When this story became public through USA Today, the PR firm was blamed for trying to run a smear campaign against Google on behalf of an unidentified client.
Dan Lyons from the US-based news site The Daily Beast then wrote that he has evidence that the client was Facebook. Confronted with the evidence a Facebook spokesperson later confirmed their role in the fracas.
Facebook tried to justify their actions by claiming that they felt that Google was acting in a way that was not good for user privacy and they felt that users should be made aware of this. Secondly, they claimed that Google was scraping Facebook data for their own social network, which wasn’t very ethical.
Whatever their reasons, the means employed by Facebook to run down their rivals can only be considered as underhand or cowardly.