Lets say you are the largest and most successful manufacturer of Android Smartphones in the world. You pay hundreds of millions in advertising dollars to get your product burned into the psyche of anyone that picked up a magazine, browsed the world wide webs or looked at a billboard. How far would you go to achieve your vision of 'world wide domination'? Would you use some other nefarious means to make sure no other competitor could sneak up from behind and steal your market share? Maybe you'd pay people to go online and write bad reviews of your competitors product and praise yours. --Sound of screeching tires and breaking glass-- Hold on! Back up! Where did that come from?!

What if we told you Samsung was just busted for doing that very thing? Early yesterday, Samsung was fined $340,300 by Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission for paying people to post messages online that attacked HTC products while praising Samsung's. Taiwan's FTC site lists nearly 4,000 examples of these types of *ahem*....reviews. Many of these "reviews" are originating on the Chinese message forum Mobile 01. Those of you unfamiliar with this site, Mobile 01 allows people to express their love of Samsung or dislike of HTC, but the kicker is that Samsung explicitly paid people to make these types of posts. This strategy is known as astro-turfing because it imitates a grass-roots campaign, but it is obviously entirely fake and rigged.

Sun Lih-chyun, a spokesman for the Taiwan FTC, said that Samsung's practice of astro-turfing was the first case of its kind in the country. Sun Lih-chyun goes on to say:

The deceitful behavior has negative impacts on market order and violated the fair trade law.
A spokesman for Samsung responded to the allegations and said "We are disappointed that the Taiwan FTC has decided that we have violated the Fair Trade Act based on online marketing activities. Samsung Electronics Taiwan is carefully reviewing the decision and will take all necessary steps to protect our reputation as a company which values its customers."

I dunno folks, but things like this leave us scratching our heads and asking "why?" Sound off in the comments and let us know your feelings on Samsung's practice of astro-turfing.

Source: ABC News