Remember when Taiwan started investigating Samsung after a slew of mean comments about HTC started appearing online? Authorities there have decided that yes, Samsung was indeed paying writers to tear its competitor down while also writing glowing things to build Samsung’s phones up in the eyes of online commenters.
Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission opened the investigation into allegations of faked online comments last April, and now the commission has fined Samsung $340,000 — not exactly a huge amount for a major electronics company and a lot less than the $840,000 it could’ve had to pay — for using “a large number of hired writers and designated employees” to post in Taiwanese forums, reports The Verge.
The commission notes that Samsung used a third-party marketing company to pull off its gossipy mission, which is what the company had claimed, and fined two firms a total of $100,000 for acting like high school meanies.
Although HTC appeared to be the target in this campaign, the country’s FTC doesn’t name it by name in the report. It simply says that Samsung paid writers to “highlight the shortcomings of competing products,” while others served to smooth over any negative news about Samsung floating around out there.
Samsung isn’t the first to engage in this practice known as astroturfing, and we’re sure it won’t be the last. A better use of time and energy might be to funnel all that effort into creating products that stand on their own merit, perhaps.