Taiwan’s FTC Fines Samsung for Astroturfing

Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has fined Samsung and two local PR firms for what it described as an organized campaign to post positive reviews of its products, while maligning competitors' products. Samsung reportedly carried this plan out through two local public relations firms who used a "large number of hired writers and designated employees" to get the job done. Samsung and the two local firms were fined $100,000 each, though the original fine it faced was much higher – as much as $1 million.

In defending itself against these charges, Samsung said that the local firms were responsible for the fake online comments. The FTC didn't buy that defense, noting that the local companies were providing Samsung with weekly and monthly reports on topics such as viral marketing campaign results, positive and negative comments, and more.

The FTC also said that the firms and designated Samsung employees "disinfected negative comments on Samsung’s own products" and highlighted shortcomings of competitors’ products. While doing all of this on Samsung's behalf, the firms did not disclose their relationship with the company.

The company told The Verge that it remains "committed to engaging in transparent and honest communications with consumers," in response to questions about the company engaging in astroturfing activities…

Source: VentureBeat

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