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.