Facebook unmasked as Burson-Marsteller’s mystery client

A report says the social network hired the PR firm to plant negative stories about Google. A veteran PR pro calls the scenario ‘outrageous.’

Facebook is the client that hired Burson-Marsteller to plant negative stories in the press about Google, according to Newsweek technology editor Dan Lyons.

This morning, Lyons reports:

“Confronted with evidence, a Facebook spokesman last night confirmed that Facebook hired Burson, citing two reasons: First, because it believes Google is doing some things in social networking that raise privacy concerns; second, and perhaps more important, because Facebook resents Google’s attempts to use Facebook data in its own social-networking service.”

Lyons said B-M at first refused to name its client. But when the firm learned that Facebook came clean, Lyons wrote to him confirming Facebook was B-M’s client.

In an email to PR Daily, veteran PR pro Fraser Seitel said: “If this is true, it is outrageous. Both Burson and Facebook should be ashamed of themselves.”

Seitel, who teaches public relations at New York University, has served “of counsel” for Burson over the years. He said he counts Harold Burson, the firm’s co-founder, as a friend.

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