Samsung fined $340,000 over faking negative web comments about competition

By , Oct 24, 2013

Samsung Galaxy S4 ad (Iceland 002)

Throughout last year, Apple-friendly web sites were infested with an avalanche of ugly comments by anonymous posters concerning the iPhone, iPad and the Apple brand in general. While website owners were reluctant to publicly point the finger of blame at the South Korean conglomerate, many had suspected it was no coincidence given Samsung was riding high on its anti-Apple ad campaign.

Conveniently, hate-spewing quickly died down after Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in April launched an investigation into Samsung’s tactics following the company’s admission of guilt about, in its own words, the “unfortunate incident” which occurred “due to insufficient understanding”.

Though Samsung  said it had“ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments,” the FTC – after finding Samsung indeed hired a “large number of hired writers and designated employees” to trash-talk competition in web comments – has now decided to slap the Galaxy maker with a $340,000 fine…

Though the FTC in a notice on its website does not mention Samsung’s competition by name, the Associated Press reported that Samsung was found guilt of organizing “an Internet campaign in violation of fair trade rules to praise Samsung smartphones while slamming those of HTC”.

The list of Samsung’s astroturfing activities, according to the Taiwanese trade body, includes the “disinfection of negative news about Samsung products,” “palindromic Samsung product marketing,” and more, reports The Verge.

The FTC also fined Samsung earlier this year over misleading ads about the Galaxy Y Duos GT-S6102 camera features. Today’s ruling is of little consolation to HTC.

The Taiwanese maker has just posted a loss in the September quarter after its global handset share plummeted from a high of 10.3 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to an unbelievably paltry 2.6 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

Samsung ad (iPhone 5 launch 001)

I should also note that there’s no concrete evidence in the FTC’s ruling that Samsung in fact paid students to lambast the iPhone in web comments.

That being said, it certainly stands to reason that the South Korean firm has probably engaged in such activity given the fierce rivalry with Apple, its legal troubles over copying iPhone technology and especially the fact that Samsung’s executives were OK with mounting such a campaign against HTC.

Last but not least, as Computerworlds’ Jonny Evans wrote back in April, “Samsung’s admission of complicity within this case sure makes it extraordinarily easy to think it possible it has been paying people to engage in online attacks against all its competitors”.

I’m sure it’s totally coincidental that we’ve been seeing a sharp decline in the frequency of hating on Apple in our own comments.

Thoughts?

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  • Sturt Grndin

    Dicks!! lol!!

    • omrishtam

      a fanboy downvoted you :/

      • Sturt Grndin

        What will be will be LOL!!

      • http://www.ideaprison.com/ ideaprison

        You mean visitors paid by Samsung did..

      • Sturt Grndin

        Lmao!! Why didn’t I think of that!! Brilliant!!

    • Liam Mulcahy

      yeah

  • Abdl

    “I’m sure it’s totally coincidental that we’ve been seeing a sharp decline in the frequency of hating on Apple in our own comments”

    Only someone who doesnt really own or use an apple device will hate on apple.

    • Rowan09

      That’s usually very true. Once you use an Apple device you start to appreciate it, but it doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate others as well.

      • Dan

        Indeed, I used Apple products and eventually switched to android. Still like IOS, just too limited for me.

      • yentrog31

        Same here. Loved my iPhone 3GS. Doubt I can go back to iOS,maybe when they make a bigger screen. Still have an Apple TV,iPod and Mac.

      • osama bin hiden

        Ios is nice but people have other preferences, I just don’t understand why then hating it will and bashing others who use it will make them happier. I loved ios until ios 7 came out, it looks too colory.

      • Rowan09

        It makes people happy to see the top company fail it’s just in some people’s DNA. I own both a Note 2 and iPhone 5s so I appreciate both OS.

      • osama bin hiden

        But do they understand that if there’s no competition, there’s going to be no innovation, example blackberry.

      • Juan Herrera

        Blackberry’s competition became the Iphone when it released and Blackberry was confident because they felt the iPhone would not become a better business class phone and u see where that situation ended up..

      • Hyr3m

        Please don’t take your case for a generality… I’m and IT professional and the more I use Apple products the more I hate them… And it’s not just their products that I hate; their philosophy and the way they’re steering the whole industry in the wrong direction too… the way they lobotomize their users and assume they’re all morons who don’t deserve choice… the way these users that get treated like morons then feel like the smartest people on earth because they are herded by a thieving liar of a shepherd who claims to have reinvented the wheel.

        You don’t need to get paid by Samsung to post hateful comments about Apple… you just need a brain which you use to think for yourself and at least a bit of open-mindedness (a bit of marketing/psychology knowledge doesn’t hurt -> look at the documentary about Edward Bernays if you don’t know what I mean by that)

      • Rowan09

        What I said is 100% correct, it’s usually the case. I hope you do know some people care less about the choice of changing as most people don’t even know how to. You really think people flocking for Android or whatever because they are so customizable we have to have it? Why isn’t Linux the most popular OS? People don’t want to buy a product to have to sit down and read manuals and that’s the normal consumer. You said Apple products but I’m sure you meant mobile devices. Not everyone is an IT professional. Let’s take an example with the Chinese language, they have traditional Chinese which a lot of people don’t know anymore because it’s too hard so they are teaching Pinyin which is simplified Chinese especially for learning the language. The whole purpose of new programming language in most cases are for simplicity not complexity. I’m an IT guy as well so speak for yourself because I made a statement saying “usually” not always.

      • Juan Herrera

        just to add my experience a bit, I’m an IT professional also and i love Apple products. There is always a flip side to everything.

    • Kartik Dhawan

      Yea, like 3 months back idb was spammed with comments like Apple is sh*t, Switch to Android etc.

    • Liam SSj

      I use a jailbroken iphone but i still hate on apple!

      • Abdl

        Well…yours is a different case then!

      • Guest

        Yeah, the reality case, yours is the brainwashed sheep case.

      • John

        That’s probably because you’re an illiterate who has hoped on the bandwagon ^_^

      • Matthew

        If you are going to call someone illiterate, at least learn to use english properly. Unless you truely follow the one true bandwagon that is :/

      • Seishin Namikaze

        Textbook projection.

      • M Last

        you can hate or love apple
        who cares?

      • xSeriouSx

        Same here, I hate Apple for their herd master attitude; thinking they’re getting paid to make my decisions for me….

    • Dan

      I doubt Samsung would bother with IDB. People reading this blog already have their mind set about Apple, negative comments won’t change anything.

  • Jonathan

    Who fined them, Apple of the government? Sorry if it’s above. I didn’t see it :P

    • Rowan09

      The FTC.

  • omrishtam

    samsung? cheating?……doesnt sound right :/

    • bigtalk

      hahahaha sounds typical

  • anshul agarwal

    Haha, knew it! Posted this suspicion on many discussions. Cheap fucks!

  • leart za jmi

    they are squalid and they know it :P

  • Tony Trenkle Jr.

    Stay classy Samsung.

    • bigtalk

      too late

    • omrishtam

      i am not sure if it is someone who didn’t understand what you ment or just a fanboy of samesung that downvoted you

      • Tony Trenkle Jr.

        prob the latter. lol

      • Seishin Namikaze

        I don’t own a single Samsung product. I think he’s delusional if he thinks that just because Samsung got caught today, they’re the exception to an otherwise ironclad rule of corporate rectitude.

      • RarestName

        What if I told you that it’s sarcasm?

      • Seishin Namikaze

        Of course it was. I replied understanding it was sarcasm. Unless you’re saying that the sarcasm was levied at the entire consumer electronics industry rather than at Samsung in particular, in which case, I would reply that there is no evidence of that in his post.

    • http://twitter.com/int3nsive Int3nsive

      How can they stay classy if they never was classy at the first place?

  • Hugh Jassol

    I own (6) Apple devices & love iOS but hate Apple’s practices.

    Most people on here are way too protective of Apple. Many are quick to defend Apple’s every move without even having a reason as to why.

    I’m not saying the haters don’t hate but where has the ability to look at something objectively gone?

    • Ignacio Irigoyen

      Indeed, but the opposite it’s also true. Non one company is free of guilt, but sometimes we exalt problems to the degree of sins, or we down play them to the level of “uuupsy”.

      But in this case, when one company tries to generate fanatic hatered punishment must be delivered. And if you ask me, Samsung paied too little for this

    • bigtalk

      apple is in the lead and has no real competition so they don’t care to innovate or price things reasonably cause they know that consumers will still buy no matter what

      • John

        “Can’t innovate anymore my ass”

        Do we really need to have THIS conversation, here?

        I disagree with everything you’ve said, there’s actually plenty of evidence to disprove what you have said.

    • Rowan09

      What Apple practices do you hate? Honestly when you buy an Apple device you get what you pay for, they don’t try to pretend as if it’s something it’s not. Business itself is just a grimy thing so business practices is what’s bad but they have to make money. Apple devices are never meant to be cheap, it’s like going in Bloomingdales looking for deals it just won’t happen.

      • Kurt

        To be fair you don’t get what you pay for. You pay way over price for the device. You wrong about “they don’t try to pretend as if it’s something it’s not”…They do not have the “most advanced mobile operating system in the world” It’s a good OS, which is very basic which is the opposite of “most advanced”, that’s why they don’t need great specs. Same goes for WP8, it’s a basic OS that runs really well. No one should ever idolize a company. If you don’t they they are run by evil people your a complete fool. On a related note, sort of…I love my Note 3, but I was completely ripped off. Here in Korea, Samsung charges more than 1,000 in its home country while its hundreds less in other countries.

      • http://www.google.com/ Roshan

        I also love my S4 as a device but I hate Samsung for it’s manufacturing company. And hate Samsung practices and how they are making me not to enjoy my phone. First region lock and now Knox. It’s by far most annoying thing Samsung did for a normal user. I understand it’s good for enterprise users but for me it’s useless.

      • Rowan09

        What your saying is just all opinions? What makes a mobile software the most advance? It’s all a matter of opinion. Some people think Windows is better than Mac OS and vice versa but it’s based on opinions until you ask a music producer or movie director. I have a Note 2 as you already know and nothing about it is advance according to your definition meaning complex. I don’t want to have to search for something for hours on my mobile device simplicity is what everyone wants with any device, hence tons of “Dummies” books. You do get what you pay for because all businesses want to mark up a device at least 50% of the cost and that’s the same with Apple and other tech companies. Apple never said they want to be the most popular, if that was the case they would take the Windows approach, they want the best experience. Say what you want but the ecosystem works great and that’s what makes Apple tech good. I like Apple, Sony, Google and Microsoft they are all good companies in their own ways. I remember when the PS 3 came out for $600 people were saying buy the Xbox 360 at $500 because it was a better value but that wasn’t true, the PS 3 came with a wireless card, Bluray (which alone cost $600-$700). People can’t say because something is not cheap it’s not worth the value. I wish the iPhone was cheaper, but there is no such thing as cheap enough unless it’s free and we know nothing comes free without some cost.

      • Hyr3m

        You’re of such bad faith… you said “they don’t try to pretend as if it’s something it’s not”; Everything they say is very subjective skewed logic yet presented as objective gospel. Trying to pretend that what they make is something it’s not is exactly what they do for a living; It’s at the core of their philosophy (marketing) and the reason Apple is what it is today.

        Also, you’re saying Apple tech (hardware) is good because of the ecosystem (software) ? Man I love your logic!

        But you’re right though, you pay for an (overpriced) iPhone and you get an (overestimated) iPhone.

      • Rowan09

        When you buy an iPad it’s not confused for a laptop, you know it’s a tablet for media consumption, reading books and light editing of documents. You buy an iPhone and it’s what they say it is a smartphone that’s simple to use with a great ecosystem. Besides the fact that the iPhone 5s smokes basically every phone in opening an application, benchmarks, game play and pulling up web pages and taking photos. Every product is overpriced and since Apple is a luxury what do you expect and we go back again to they tell you what your buying. All business use marketing for sales you act as if this is something Apple made up. They are both a software and hardware company so when you buy their products they are optimized for each other and that’s a big part of why Apple is so successful. How does any hardware matter if the software isn’t optimize or used properly? Specs means nothing with bad software, it’s just a filler for marketing. What phone do you own by the way since Apple makes the only overpriced device on the market?

      • mehrab

        After seeing so many people firsthand and owning android and apple products i can say you get what you pay for with apple

      • Kurt

        It’s overpriced, something you won’t admit. But you do get a good experience with iDevices, especially once you jailbreak and get some features going.

      • mehrab

        I never had to jailbreak to enjoy ios but whatever

      • Kurt

        I wouldn’t expect anything less from you.

      • blastingbigairs

        And don’t forget, it’s made in California, by Apple :)

  • Thomas Shea

    I can’t see how it was bad what Samsung did. U.S. Politicians use these tactics as their primary election campaigns. You slam on your competitor so badly that people don’t have a choice but to vote for you, even though you haven’t said anything about your own views and ideals. This is business as usual in America. I am surprised that Apple hasn’t started a campaign slamming everyone else calling them illegal devices for infringing on Apple’s patent on human touch and speech. (This is all sarcasm if you couldn’t tell) Honestly I don;t vote for any candidates or vote for any company (with my wallet) that has to tell me how bad a competitor’s product is instead of how good theirs is.

    • bigtalk

      it was very bad just like them faking benchmarks… and just being lame

  • bigtalk

    hahahahhhahhahahahhahahh Samsung sucks and is officially an internet TROLL!!!

  • n0ahcruz3

    My contract with samsung is over time to go back to apple lol

    • Kartik Dhawan

      “My contract with Samsung is over, time to go back to Apple” :)

      • Cameron Chao

        i actually understood him.

      • n0ahcruz3

        Fixed tnx hahaha

      • Kartik Dhawan

        o.O seems better

  • Christopher

    Samsungs just a sore loser it seems

    • John

      Just shows the absolute desperation on their behalf, really.

  • Joseph

    Once again, an article not relevant to Apple at all! This time it has no connection to Apple whatsoever, only HTC. Explanation, anyone?

    • Ignacio Irigoyen

      Really? The fist sentence did not give you a clue about this?

      “Throughout last year, Apple-friendly web sites were infested with an avalanche of ugly comments by anonymous posters concerning the iPhone, iPad and the Apple brand in general.”

      I’m sure my fellow “commentators” can quote other instances that show that you did not even read the article.

    • Cameron Chao

      im not sure what a raging samsung fanboy like you is doing on a pro apple page in the first place.

      • Joseph

        Reading about Apple news and defending Android in general from trolls. Also, nice effort… Insulting me when you can’t retaliate properly.

      • Rowan09

        Why? I would never go on an Android site to start trouble, but to each it’s own.

      • John

        It’s because people like Joseph don’t really have a life outside their devices now that Samsung has their fingers in EVERY electronic ‘pie’ in the house…why else do you think they put a pedometer in the GS4– to encourage people to get out of the house and exercise.

      • John

        So, you become a troll to stop people being a troll if though they don’t troll in the first place.

        Tell me…how’s that working for you?

      • Cameron Chao

        To me i actually like these posts, sure it might not have much connection to Apple, but seeing peoples opinions in the comment section is entertaining. Thats all i can retaliate. If you notice i didnt make any comments here at all. Apart from responding to you.

    • mehrab

      Whats it to you? Dont like it? Then uhm go away

      • Joseph

        No. I read this blog because I like reading Apple news and I go to Android blogs because I like reading Android news. You all seem to be under the assumption I have a problem with Apple itself; no, I don’t. It’s the behavior of some of the people commenting on the site and the way a few authors write on this site that cause me to do this. The content is still good, though.

      • mehrab

        Dont like the heading dont click on it. My point still remains the same

      • John

        Can you show me somewhere on this site which says the have exclusively Apple news?

  • DomL

    I’m not surprised if Samsung got exposed for this – they even did fake reviews praising their own products before. That is why Samsung is my least respected company in the mobile industry. I don’t get why people still buy Samsung phones(probably the biggest advantage is the screen size). Yes, the phone offers bunch of cool features like air touch and air gesture. But it’s totally gimmick and not really practical for daily usage.

  • Yujin

    Good now the US government should do the same for those that get paid to write blogs, comments, fake news, and abusive remakes that play with stock prices.

  • batongxue

    Bitch has got a *****

  • beatles

    F*ck!ng CrapSung

  • Tommy

    As if 340k would cause even the tiniest dent in the financial books of samsung. The act should be publicized in a newspaper to shame the company.

  • Gone

    Only poor people hate Apple. I feel sorry for cashiers who think Apple sucks because they are too poor to own one.

    • Taf Khan

      That’s incorrect.. People who can’t afford the price also like Apple. In china we have seen people go to many lengths to raise the funds to allow for the purchase of an iDevice.

    • Joseph

      It’s snobby people like you who think they’re entitled just because they own a device that cause people to hate Apple.

      • Taf Khan

        Never let the opinions of others dictate what you should or should not like.. .

  • Supaabzz

    If you’re a fanboy of one of the company, just support them, stop hating on other company. So if you love apple stick with it. Stop hating samsung, and if you own samsung stop hating apple. If you love both then great!

  • Taf Khan

    iGet the feeling some of those fake paid Samsung trolls maybe lurking amongst the commenters on iDB.. .

  • Matthew Cooper

    Haha damn I wish thy would have paid me cause I was doing a lot of Apple bashing this year for free!!!

    • Juan Herrera

      then you were just wasting your time for nothing.. bash all u want, they still sell…

  • sam graves

    What law was broken?

  • JB Burrows

    Thats what they got caught doing. It is suspected to be linked to the Apple side as well.

  • John

    Firstly, you give Gizmodo credit for their articles–there lies your first problem.

    Secondly, you can tell your argument is well thought through when you end it with whatever. Shows your maturity.

    Thirdly, what? You want them to start an investigation into Apple sites where this has been occurring for months. Will that make you happy?

    Fourthly, where the hell does it say that every article on this site MUST have something to do with Apple?

  • Ted Forbes

    Both iPhone and Galexy are cashers in our pockets.

    Every time we purchase something from iTunes or Android stores both Apple and Samsung pile up cash.

    So whether we are Android-fanboys or Apple-fanboys we are protecting them for free and at the same time paying to protect them.

    How about it Apple, I would like to be paid also.
    So how about it Samsung? Smart!

    • Joseph

      Samsung doesn’t get payed for app downloads. Their devices use the Google Play Store.

      • Ted Forbes

        Nice!
        But I didn’t say that they did.

        I also didn’t say Samsung passes around a collection plate.
        I also didn’t say Samsung collects love offerings.
        I also didn’t say Samsung sings for its supper.
        I didn’t say a lot of things.

        How interesting, but It would be nice to stick to the points that I mentioned, wouldn’t it?

      • Joseph

        You did, though.

        “Every time we purchase something from iTunes or **Android stores** both Apple and **Samsung** pile up cash.”

        That says Samsung, not Google.

      • Ted Forbes

        I am not questing your intelligence, but I am questing you knowledge base of these tech giants, how they partner with each other and how the money works.

        Remember Samsung phones do not carry their own OS so Android which is Google does it for them.. Without Android there might be no Galaxy.

        Android might be the app store but its not the only thing that is about this, because of Android people are buying up the Galaxy like hot cakes.

        Galaxy is Samsung’s casher in your pocket. I hope you understand this.

      • Juan Herrera

        It’s sorta correct but the other way around.. Samsung is Android’s money maker not the other way around. Android is the OS behind over 100+ different model phones out there. Samsung’s long overdue advancements in their products running the android OS (the Galaxy line which actually didn’t gain much traction until the GS3 released last year), the device which allowed them to finally compete sales wise with the iPhone but not “kill” it like it’s nickname stated at the time before release, “iPhone Killer”. There are many android run models out there, but not many sell well, especially in comparison to Samsung. Samsung has bumped up to pretty much being the face of Android because honestly, they were always fast learners. They listened to the small cries for little things like a bigger screen or functional stylus from the small percentage that looked for those things and blew it up for the world to see because wherever those small percentages came from, there had to me be more wanting the same and soon, the need for these trivial things spread like wildfire. It worked for them but they’ve only been on top for a bit over a year and being much bigger than Apple before that, they should have always had the lead.. they have a long way to go and a lot of protecting to do of their lead because that 5 year stretch Apple had is not easy to match or beat.. and they were just named most valuable company again with Samsung in at #9 by Forbes and Google around 5th i believe

  • Pt S

    I’m gonna go full on racial here, but South Korean culture teaches national pride to be above everything else, including fairness and reason. Don’t take my word for it, just go ask any Korean raised in S. Korea, they’ll confirm it. A few years ago they even wanted to claim Confucius to be Korean lol.

  • Rayny

    Apple is the suck a$$hole i neva buy apple product

  • Yuxuan Lin

    That just paying the money for the advertisement.

  • momerathe

    I don’t think they know what “palindromic” means

  • djt

    this is huge. Because as obvious as it has been for years, we now have empirical evidence and tangible proof that Samsung is still run like organized crime. A gang of unethical, liars and thieves. It is now fact. Not conjecture.

    This, as the saying goes, is officially on the record. This reflects the Samsung brand.

    If the news industry does not report this, then they are nothing more than co-conspiritors.

    Samsung’s history of scumbaggery and illegal behavior has been well-documented, but the Press has given them a pass.

    Can you imagine the field day the Press would have if Apple were found guilty of the same FTC imposed criminal fines?

  • NekoMichi

    It’s kind of sad to see companies using dishonest ways to harm the competition rather than focus on improving themselves.

    If they’re confident about their own product then they should at least spend their efforts on promoting themselves positively rather than use negative, underhanded practices such as this.

    All this goes to show is that they’re unconfident about themselves and scared of the competition.