The New York Times yesterday published a scathing report about Facebook, highlighting things such as the company’s poor response to Russian abuse of its platform, Mark Zuckerberg’s disdain for Tim Cook, and more. One allegation in the piece was that Facebook had worked with a public affairs firm, Definers Public Affairs, to spread negative information about competitors.

Now, Business Insider reports that Qualcomm may be using that same firm, with Apple on the receiving end.

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The initial New York Times report made mention that Definers’ work against Apple was funded by a “third technology company,” not Facebook itself. Here’s what the report said:

“Mr. Miller acknowledged that Facebook and Apple do not directly compete. Definers’ work on Apple is funded by a third technology company, he said, but Facebook has pushed back against Apple because Mr. Cook’s criticism upset Facebook.

If the privacy issue comes up, Facebook is happy to ‘muddy the waters,’ Mr. Miller said over drinks at an Oakland, Calif., bar last month.”

Business Insider suggests, however, that Qualcomm is that third company. Qualcomm and Apple are currently in the midst of a messy legal battle, with Apple having dropped Qualcomm as a supplier for modems used in the latest iPhone models.

In the report, Business Insider’s Kif Leswing says that he was approached by the west coast head of Definers, Tim Miller, about a possible story related to the fines Apple “was incurring related to the legal action” between it and Qualcomm. Leswing says that Miller approached other reports at Business Insider about Qualcomm and Apple stories, as well.

In addition to Business Insider’s report, NBC News reported today that Qualcomm is a client of Definers, according to a former employee of the firm. The report explained that NTK Networks, a website run by Definers, is currently promoting a story entitled about conservative reaction to the legal case between Apple and Qualcomm:

NTK is currently running an ad to promote a story published on Tuesday headlined “Conservatives Blast ITC Judge’s Ruling on Apple,” which refers to a patent dispute between Apple and Qualcomm. The former employee claimed Qualcomm had a relationship with Definers.

The legal war between Apple and Qualcomm has grown increasingly messy as of late. Qualcomm recently accused Apple of stealing source code and giving it to Intel. Additionally, while an out of court settlement looked briefly possible, Apple is now said to be preparing for a lengthy court battle instead.


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