Soviet Style, Facebook Plants Negative Stories about Google

By Selwyn Duke

Sometimes you just wish that both sides in a contest could lose. Such is the case with respect to the latest revelation about Facebook: that it hired a PR firm to plant negative stories about Google. Writes Dan Lyons at The Daily Beast:

For the past few days, a mystery has been unfolding in Silicon Valley. Somebody, it seems, hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers, urging them to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy. Burson even offered to help an influential blogger write a Google-bashing op-ed, which it promised it could place in outlets like the Washington Post, Politico, and The Huffington Post.

The plot backfired when the blogger turned down Burson’s offer and posted the emails that Burson had sent him. It got worse when USA Today broke a story accusing Burson of spreading a “whisper campaign” about Google “on behalf of an unnamed client.”

After learning that the unnamed client was Facebook, The Daily Beast subsequently received confirmation from a company spokesman that it had, in fact, hired Burson. And the company is well-suited to the task it was assigned. Lyons also tells us, “Mark Penn, Burson’s CEO, has been a political consultant for Bill Clinton, and is best known as the chief strategist in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.” In other words, Burson could probably disgorge a 25-page analysis on the definition of the word “is.”

Read the rest here.