Strict NDAs reveal how Facebook controls messaging

  • Facebook’s contracts with some of its ad agencies have a nondisclosure clause that prevents them from discussing any aspect of the company’s business, even if that information is already public.
  • Industry insiders say the language is stricter than most client contracts but that it doesn’t apply to most larger and holding company-owned agencies that have more financial leverage.
  • This language could be a major conflict for agencies that do work for Facebook but also use Facebook to market their other clients, said Jeffrey Greenbaum of law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
  • Facebook declined to comment.
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Facebook spends millions managing its reputation and business relationships, and this practice also applies to the ad agencies it uses in its marketing.

Facebook has contracts with some agencies that forbids them from confirming or commenting on any aspect of Facebook without its written permission — even if that information is already public. In some cases, the clause applies after the agency has stopped working for Facebook.

Business Insider reviewed a contract containing this nondisclosure agreement, and while not all agencies’ contracts with Facebook contain this language, multiple small and mid-sized agencies confirmed theirs do. All spoke on condition of anonymity, with some citing concerns about possible retaliation.

This broad language shows how Facebook wields its massive power over the ad industry, especially among smaller agencies. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

Facebook’s nondisclosure clause poses a dilemma for agencies 

All agency-client contracts contain some form of NDA, said Jeffrey Greenbaum, partner at law firm Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, who specializes in such contracts. They often forbid the agency from using a client’s name and logo without permission and sharing proprietary information about products or services that haven’t been released to the public, but allow agencies

Google workers say NDAs ban whistleblowing, violate free speech

  • Google contractors alleged in a lawsuit that they were required to sign illegal nondisclosure agreements that prevented them from whistleblowing and violated their free speech rights.
  • According to a California court’s discussion of the legal proceedings, the workers claimed Google’s rules barred them from reporting “violations of state and federal law,” “unsafe or discriminatory working conditions,” and “wage and hour violations.”
  • The workers, some of whom were employed via the staffing agency Adecco, claimed they couldn’t even write “novels” or “reassure their parents they are making enough money to pay their bills.”
  • Google’s contract workers have increasingly raised issues over how they’re treated compared to full-time employees.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google contractors have alleged in a lawsuit that they’re required to sign illegal nondisclosure agreements that violate their rights of “competition, whistleblowing, and freedom of speech” under California law.

In the lawsuit, which a California appellate court discussed in a ruling last week, the workers accused Google and Adecco, the staffing agency through which some of them were employed, of violating their legal rights to discuss a range of workplace issues.

Google and Adecco did not respond to requests for comment.

“Google’s confidentiality rules prevent employees from disclosing violations of state and federal law, either within Google to their managers or outside Google to private attorneys or government officials,” they alleged, according to the court, including “disclosing information about unsafe or discriminatory working conditions, or about wage and hour violations.”

“They are forbidden even to write a novel about working in Silicon Valley or to reassure their parents they are making enough money to pay their bills, matters untethered to any legitimate need for confidentiality,” the court said of the workers.

The contracts also allegedly barred employees from talking about the “skills, knowledge, and experience they