Taiwanese regulators fined Samsung the equivalent of $340,000 for an astroturfing campaign directed against HTC.

Back in April this year, Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission opened an investigation into Samsung’s advertising practices, after news broke that a local marketing company working for Samsung had paid students to write negative comments against HTC and other competitors. The anonymous commenters were paid to badmouth competitors and praise Samsung’s own products, a practice that is not only unethical but also illegal.

Following the opening of the investigation, Samsung announced it ceased all marketing activities involving comments and claimed the campaign was a mistake caused by “insufficient training”. The AFP reported at the time that Samsung was risking a fine of up to $835,000.

While the $340,000 fine is a significant amount, it’s just pocket change for the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, widely expected to announce another quarter of multi-billion profits this Friday.

The insult of getting caught red-handed is probably much harder to stomach for Samsung, at a time when its public image has been tarnished by benchmark rigging, the region locking debacle, and, most recently, rumors of a clampdown on unofficial accessories.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • MasterMuffin

    I think they should pay triple the amount, that’s not a real punishment (though it still would be nothing for Samsung…)

    • APai

      I am guessing the fines and banning of devices is taking a political turn now that obama decided to use his veto powers.

      • MasterMuffin

        So you think Obama should be punished? :D

        • APai

          :) but im pretty sure, the western nation cabal has some nice plans drawn up in obscure names of cispa/ tpp to beat insolent developing nations into submission!

          • MasterMuffin


    • Amine Elouakil

      I think it is in relation to Taiwanese law; usually fines are defined and also I don’t think other campagnies (HTC) were on defending side, but yes considering how big is Samsung they should way more than that

  • Tiago Alves

    That’s a new low for Samsung… shamefull.


    They even give us fake leather lol

    • Gilles LeBlanc

      Pay me samsung ill stay quiet and bash da hell outa your competition.

      • APai

        it could easily be the case with “review writers” / paid shills :D

        I’m pretty sure there might be shady businesses who have an front office and “outsourced” army across asian/ african/ poor english speaking countries!

        • Gilles LeBlanc

          And really who cares right? If some dumb azz allows something some douche wrote on a post influence their buying decision they deserve to be tied up to a pole over night while android authoritys writer monkeys fling poo at them.

  • Microsoftjunkie

    They should’ve been fined for at least 100,000k for each message that’s linked to them. Companies are atruggling to keep up and this only seals somes fate.

    • APai

      funny, you say that – just saw your handle. the stuff microsoft did is legendary – by that measure, the microsoft/ intel combo should have been banned from the face of the earth – given how much rot they perpetrated or decades.

  • Balraj

    Pocket change
    That shows how big Samsung is..
    Btw Samsung became number 1 by cheating n copying..but they products are better now
    Why still do the same old stuff
    Maybe habits are hard to forgo

    • APai

      can accuse the same for apple too. pls do remember that samsung is REAL innovator, they are market leaders in Display, Ram, microchip production, TVs/ consumer electronics, etc. in the same breath I could say apple is good at patenting rounded corners and hiding under obama’s skirt when their devices get banned

      • Matt

        Innovators? Everything they have done for their mobile devices is a result of stealing. They got caught and were so embarrassed that they tried to turn things around on Apple.
        You must have missed the article and internal documents where Samsung requested that things be made identical to the iphone:P

        • APai

          oh please! that’s tiresome. the case has been dragged around the world. and apple won mostly in the US of A.
          …and as if apple never has copied others ?

          • Apple_Nexus

            Your entire defence if this unethical company seems to revolve around the supposition that some other company are worse. :? Grow up! This article is about Shamesung and their continuous lack of ethics and not about Apple who ran off with your train set or whatever you think they did to you.

          • APai

            I am not defending samsung, I do damn them, you just have to follow my comments, I always am pro users, and against unethical companies. however, this decision has nothing to do with consumer complaints – it’s gone well beyond that – this is the realm of trade disputes as to why samsung has been slapped with such a small fine, why make a big hue and cry when countries are getting defensive in this fight ? you may like crapple, but you dint follow my trail of thoughts for sure

      • cycad007

        Samsung has been caught violating bribery, anti-trust, dumping, and patent laws multiple times. Did you read that the EU just found Samsung guilty of abusing their FRAND patents?

        I hope the EU “innovates” and b1tch-slaps Samsung with a *HUGE* fine :D

        • APai

          who disagrees ? I’m not saying they are a paragon of virtue. neither is apple.

      • Daryl Tang

        Samsung have always been a leader in produce advanced electronics, like you said, Display, Ram, Microchips. That doesn’t mean they design good products and innovate anything. They are just lower down in the supply chain and taking advantage of their position in cost of manufacturing “everything including the kitchen sink” to replicate MBAs, IPhones, IPads, They might even copy MBP if windows support retina display and iMac and mac minis if there was huge demand for desktops. Dell makes much better designed windows laptop, HTC makes much better android phones, but for samsung everything is just cheaper to make and everyone needs to buy from them too.

        • APai

          I’d have agreed with you 3 years back. not anymore dude. 200 million note+galaxy s series is proof for that.

          • Fox Ray

            If that is your proof than you are saying that Apple is better? 250 million iPhone’s sold (not including 5c & 5s) and 170 million iPad’s (in case you don’t know maths = 420 million)

          • APai

            nope, just that you can conclude whatever you want to given that any 2-3 sentences can be misconstrued.

            but the OP clearly is bullshitting when he says samsung doesnt make good devices. which is kind of hilarious, unless you are an apple fan.

      • Balraj

        Why bring Apple in here?
        Respect ppl what if Apple patents it’s icons, are other oem incapable of making different icon styles? No right?
        Speak to the point, only referto sSamsung mobile division
        Nyways just respect ppl n there work

        • APai

          “Why bring Apple in here?”
          extremely important. because when you make fun of another set of people not fining samsung appropriately (according to the gravity of the apparent crime), then I’d like to drag apple along here. it’s a trade dispute, and we are seeing nations’ behave differently because of inherent bias.

          “incapable of making different icon styles”
          relax, apple never copied a grid of icons ?

          “Samsung became number 1 by cheating n copying”
          that needed a rebuttal. because you said “Nyways just respect ppl n there work” my answer was precisely because you ONLY respect apple , and almost blindly. so you will get some uncomfortable answers. the reality is that they are both good at a lot of things

          • Balraj

            I never said Samsung sucks, I was just telling even after becoming number one, why still behave cheap..
            I still don’t understand y Apple is being referredto sSamsung here..
            I don’t believe in Apple but I do like what they have done..

          • APai

            “I still don’t understand y Apple is being referredto sSamsung here..”
            because this isnt technology we are talking about – but its moved into the realm of trade disputes, given how courts and regimes are favoring their own companies. that’s the reason I dragged apple being protected by obama, against court orders. how difficult is it parse it ? it’s not hieroglyph

  • Lee

    LOL sammy !Anything for a buck?Poor HTC they’re already in trouble would it hurt you if they make some money by putting their blood and thunder on their devices unlike you.

  • Lukas

    send them trucks full of 1 cent coins like you did with apple

    • natjsb

      Sir, that was a hoax. :)

      • APai

        even if it were true – I’d imagine it’d be pretty pointless, all apple would have to do was ask samsung politely to deposit it into some obscure bank in some obscure island around ireland :P

  • tech4life

    One thing I’ve learned, Samsung will do anything to sell their products. Ethics be damned!

    • APai

      how about obama ganging up with apple ?

      • cycad007

        Hey APai…

        How about Samsung illegally obtaining & using “Highly Confidential — Attorneys’ Eyes Only” agreements to bargain against Nokia?

        Like tech4life said…Samsung will do anything. They are a company that LACKS ethics!

        • APai

          agreed – they are a monopoly supported by the korean government ( almost the same as apple getting supported by obama)

      • Fox Ray

        Comparing apples with oranges? The two cases where clearly different and the misuse of FRAND licenses was the reason for the Obama administration veto.

        Fact if that Samsung retracted all their injunctions in Europe after the european government stated that they were going to investigate the injunctions and the way Samsung dealt with Apple over the FRAND licenses.

        It’s clear that Samsung was afraid of the European government investigating this.

        And before you are going to state that the European government teams up with Apple, Apple itself is under investigation by the European government for its dominating position for the use of LTE on iPhones and having carriers paying licenses.

        • APai

          when your patent office allows companies like apple to patent geometry, samsung resorted to the only logical thing plausible in this scenario. companies wouldn’t have dreamt of patenting rounded corners. it’s aptly clear that its a trade dispute here, even though its apples (with some help from USPTO) and lemons (for samsung since they had to resort to frand patents as a last ditch measure, and given how ridiculously things were stacked against them)

          of course frand patents makes no sense anywhere including the EU. on the same note, apple got their rounded corners and look and feel thrashed in the EU, noting that the earlier samsung clearly did not look anything close to iphone 1. the judge laughed it off, apple did not

          look i’m not defending samsung here, but I do not miss the context, when apple is involved , simply because of the disparity that other companies face when in US turf. samsung has made a number of dick moves recently, i’ll be the first to jump to defend the users. the whole scene is surreal for me because the hypocrisy is breathtaking, and when a country defend its favorite companies with a broken patent system and vetos, something doesnt seem right. having said that – i will beat samsung with the same cudgel because korea does the same shit too.

          • Fox Ray

            Are you referring to the UK judge that made Apple apologise to Samsung and had to publicly state that Samsung did not copy Apple? And is now on the payroll of Samsung?

          • APai

            yeah, pretty much like the jury and lucy koh is on apple’s payroll. or like president obama himself , being an apple fan is a nice thing, you get to vote the opposing camp with vengeance!

      • Jesse Afolabi

        opa gangnam style?

  • htcLOLZ

    Though it was certainly very foul play by Samsung, I’d wonder if this would have really made much difference to HTC anyway, who were for quite some time, and still are, in a death spiral.

    • Daryl Tang

      They did I to all other brands. Just that this action was taken in Taiwan, where HTC is HQ

      • Amine Elouakil

        in Taiwan they were targeting HTC, but not only that they were too obvious about it and got caught and this is a recidive.

  • Brendon Brown

    Im getting real tired of your shit Samsung :|

  • fillfaster

    While no one fined blackberry for fake review over BBM ? wow

    • APai

      while I think that might be the case – it’s bbm not guilty until proven so.

  • Groud Frank

    Of this is true, along with all the other accusations, then it is a pity that they are the fact of Android.

    • APai

      nope, the face of Android is google, sorry. samsung’s just a poser

  • Luka Mlinar

    As soon as i see someone praising Windows Phone i just figure it’s some student getting payed somewhere in Asia,

    • APai

      quite possible. but in asian countries, the nokia/ wp phones were really popular with a small section of students, because for a short while they hit the sweet spot.

      • Luka Mlinar

        The Asha line was big in India at one point but the Chinese cheap phones now benchmark as good as the Samsung S3.

        • APai

          yeah – the asha line is still good for durability, but functionally, the medatek based chips are just much better than the low end windows lumia phones

  • Mike Kister

    “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

  • APai

    this is nothing compared to the “presidential veto” farce

    • cycad007

      You’re right. The punishment is way too lenient. Taiwan should have fined Samsung 100x that amount to be fair.

  • Jon E

    Samsung really needs to stop as it’s starting to look very appleesque.

  • jack

    I’ll do this job for Samsung because I have actually had bad experiences w/ HTC phones I owned in the pass like the HTC Rezound and One x.

    • Amine Elouakil

      huh what was bad about both phones? faulty device, also this is just my advice, try to avoid carrier specific phones as much as you can as they tend to have too much control on those device (Rezound, Thunderbolt…) and this is not only true for HTC but for any other OEM

  • Samsung used to be the good guys by going up against big mean apple. Now they drink the same kool aid.

  • john

    Now this is just plain embarrassing.

  • Paul K Deuster

    Seriously wtf is Samsung doing. A few weeks ago the only reason I didn’t want do buy a Samsung handset was touchwiz and the update policy, the news of the last month add a lot more! Not good Samsung, not good.