Social networking Web site Facebook Inc on on Thursday said it had hired a public relations firm to highlight supposed flaws in the privacy practices of its peer, Google’s less known ‘Social Circles’ offering.
The company however denied it had intended a smear campaign against the search giant.
Facebook, which has taken privacy missteps of its own in the past, hired PR firm Burson-Marstellar to focus attention on the use of consumers’ personal information on Social Circles.
The revelation highlights the growing rivalry between Google, the world’s leading Web search business, and Facebook, the largest social networking site with over a half a billion users globally.
Facebook and Google’s skirmish shows how consumer privacy, particularly around sensitive data, could be a ticking time bomb for modern Internet companies that manage an increasing amount of user information such as credit card and social security numbers.
Burson-Marstellar contacted several journalists and privacy experts without revealing the identity of its client. Facebook said it should have presented the issues in a “serious and transparent” way.
“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,” the company said in a statement. “Facebook did not approve of use or collection for this purpose.”
Google was not immediately available for comment.
Sony Corp has been wrestling with a major privacy problem after its online system was hacked compromising the personal data of more than 100 million online video game users. Reuters