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Samsung Accused of Paying For Negative HTC Reviews 112

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-not-kosher dept.
judgecorp writes "Samsung Taiwan has been accused of paying to have negative reviews of HTC products put online by students who recommended Samsung devices instead. The Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission is investigating Samsung's advertising agency in Taiwan, and Samsung Taiwan has responded by cancelling all Internet marketing."
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Samsung Accused of Paying For Negative HTC Reviews

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  • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:17PM (#43463677)
    That there is such a thing as the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      That there is such a thing as the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission.

      What would be surprising would be if such an organization had teeth. Here in the US we have the EPA. Seen our environment? "Nicer than China" is not an endorsement.

  • by swschrad (312009) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:18PM (#43463679) Homepage Journal

    after all, they can't bully HTC on patents, so they have to do it by hiring whiners

  • I wonder what are those false advertisements they are talking about.

    Anyway, I hope this is not a false advertisement from HTC as well.

    • Is it technically false advertising?

      However there should be full disclosure: "Negative review of competitor's product paid for." Or at least "This is a paid-for anti-advertisement."

  • Doesn't exactly the same thing happen all of the time with books and book review on Amazon? There's a war of shills advertising for the book with inflated reviews and the counter-surge of negative reviews for the books sold by your competitors. Or books written by authors you dislike or despise...
    .
    What makes this different from positive advertising of your product's virtues or negative comparisons or statements about your competitor's products? Is it the hidden "agency" [wikipedia.org] of using unattributed posters to
    • What about Mac vs PC?
      Elections?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BasilBrush (643681)

      Does Amazon allow you to review a book if you haven't bought it from them? If so, yes, it's ripe for abuse.

      The quality of Apple App Store reviews were low in the early days, as anyone could review anything. So lots of apps got lots of one-star reviews for being 99c rather than free. Or other really stupid reasons.

      The quality of reviews rose considerably when only people that had downloaded the app were allowed to review it.

      • by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @02:29PM (#43464489) Journal

        Yep, Amazon allows reviews without prior purchase. It's why there's a whole load of book reviews from people who never read the things, some of whom readily admit to this. It's more common on controversial topics.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Does Amazon allow you to review a book if you haven't bought it from them? If so, yes, it's ripe for abuse.

        The quality of Apple App Store reviews were low in the early days, as anyone could review anything. So lots of apps got lots of one-star reviews for being 99c rather than free. Or other really stupid reasons.

        The quality of reviews rose considerably when only people that had downloaded the app were allowed to review it.

        Amazon does, for the simple reason that they realize not everyone buys their entire l

        • Because, AFAIK, iTunes has always required owning the app to review it (since you couldn't have gotten it elsewhere).

          No, I'm a developer. Originally, anyone with an account could post a review, regardless of whether they had downloaded it. There was much gnashing of teeth by developers about it.

    • by geek (5680) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:39PM (#43463933) Homepage

      The amazon situation is far worse and more widespread. I actually left a review for a book, a rather scathing one pointing out all the of problems with it. It was a scholarly book, not fiction. The book had dozens of 5 star reviews but was riddled with so many errors as to make it 1) virtually unreadable and 2) horrendously incorrect even to first year students and pretty much anyone with a brain cell.

      Within hours I had hundreds of "unhelpful" votes followed by a steady stream of profanity thrown at me on my comment. Amazon removed my comment for review 6 times before putting it back due to complaints by the author. Then 8 years later the "author" and I use that term loosely, wrote another book and stuck a link to my review inside it with 12 pages of profanity laced verbiage regarding how bad a person I was and what I did with my mother. The author then posted a link to his new book in my comment so that I would be aware of its existence.

      I've since removed my review because I'm frankly sick of the notifications that it's been hammered again. As it turned out though, the majority of the reviews were the authors friends and various fake accounts. It's so widespread on amazon these days I dont even read reviews anymore.

      The kicker is the book was a scholarly look at the peaceful proliferation of Buddhism in the world..........

      • by Endo13 (1000782)

        I wonder if books are more likely to have such fake reviews than other categories on Amazon? Either way, your post is very interesting. Wish I could toss you a mod point.

      • by alexgieg (948359)

        The kicker is the book was a scholarly look at the peaceful proliferation of Buddhism in the world..........

        Would you have some good suggestion on this or related topics? And if possible available for Kindle (shipping of physical books to Brazil is expensive) and not costing a fortune? I've read several books by actually representative Buddhist practitioners thus from Buddhists' own perspectives, but not much by academic scholars.

      • You understand that there is a threshold for libel, and that if what you posted is true, your best course of resolution is a legal one, not some arcane amazon process, right?

        • by geek (5680)

          For a libel case I would have to show damages. I wasn't damaged as the name on Amazon that I use is fake. Regardless, I just couldn't give a shit less about it. It was like 8-10 years ago.

      • by tbird81 (946205)

        The kicker is the book was a scholarly look at the peaceful proliferation of Buddhism in the world..........

        You expected a positive response to criticism from a writer of religious bullshit?

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @03:36PM (#43465181) Journal

      This is one of the reasons I think ACs should be banned or at the very least start with a -2 because we have seen so much shilling and its soooo much easier to hide that with AC posts. After all you can look at the posting history and go "Well this poster only seems to post in topics concerning company A and only has glowing things to say about company A" and thus get a pretty good idea they are getting paid whereas for an AC post its impossible to tell if this is a pattern or if the poster merely likes a product.

      Anybody can look at my history and see I like and hate a lot of things, often made by the same companies, so unless a company was stupid enough to pay for having some of their products royally slammed its just my opinion. How can I tell with an AC whether they just like something and are being honest in their like or if they are being paid to like it? Not any way that I can tell which is why I'm no fan of ACs. At least in the past ACs were primarily for trolling and bad jokes, your penisbird and other dirty ASCII art as well as old jokes like the "how to care for your nigger" post but now you can get whole articles and not have a dozen legit posts, its ALL ACs which means the entire thread is suspect IMHO.

  • I hope there's a special level of hell set aside for them.
    • I hope there's a special level of hell set aside for them.

      they're going to burn in a very special level of Hell. Along with those people who talk at the theater.

  • I wonder... (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSwift (2714953) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:30PM (#43463821)
    ... how much HTC paid for this accusation?
    • This is exactly my thought. True or not Taiwan has too much invested in HTC to care if samsung is actually guilty.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've had a HTC incredible 2 for almost 2 years now, and I've not been too happy with it :/ (Thankfully, the 2 year contract is almost up)
    Between the faulty charger port, horrible reception, quickly draining/overheating battery, and broken promises by HTC/Verizon several times to update, I don't exactly have a very positive view of HTC.
    I'll admit this is the only HTC phone I have, maybe the other ones suck less.
    But regardless, while I'm not ruling it out that it's impossible for Samsung to have done such,
    • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:56PM (#43464141) Homepage
      Please contact your Samsung HR department asap, we have trouble finding out who to send the check to when people post as AC.
    • by Kelbear (870538)

      I have had an HTC incredible for about 2 years now, I'm out of contract. Worked perfectly up until the last over-the-air update from Verizon a few months ago managed to screw over the Camera so that it sometimes reboots after taking a picture. I'm not certain of who's to blame for that update, but I'm thinking Verizon.

      Otherwise, I like my phone, I'd buy HTC again. In the meantime I'm still going to use this phone for a few more years.

    • Need to send out at about 8:20 pm.

  • This is sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gaygirlie (1657131) <(gaygirlie) (at) (hotmail.com)> on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:31PM (#43463837) Homepage

    Personally I believe the HTC One is a remarkable phone, exceedingly pretty and I love the fact that HTC dared to go against the mainstream with their camera by focusing on good low-light performance at the mega-pixel race's expense. While the Samsung Galaxy S III has nice specs it looks like ass and Samsung is seemingly afraid of trying new things now that they believe they've found a winning formula. I hope HTC can gain some market-share from Samsung and continues to experiment with their phones.

    • by drakaan (688386)
      ...for that matter, my HTC (droid DNA) is the first phone I've really loved since my original motorola droid. Then again, it could just be that the droid X2 I suffered with for almost 2 years was such a piece of shit.
    • yeah such a nice 4MP camera lol! when nokia wanted good low-light performance they made a 41MP camera, and htc makes a shitty 4MP.

      • yeah such a nice 4MP camera lol! when nokia wanted good low-light performance they made a 41MP camera, and htc makes a shitty 4MP.

        ..and if you knew anything about photography you'd realize that megapixels do not equal quality.

        • I know a decent bit about photography. And what you said is true after a certain threshold of number of pixels has been crossed. I feel that the threshold is considerably higher than 4MP.

      • by anethema (99553)

        Actually, assuming a fixed sensor size which is usually the case since your lens package determines this, the lower the pixel count, the larger the pixels are, and the more light you will get per pixel. This means, for a certain ISO, you will get a much brighter picture, the lower your megapixel count is. Esp on a phone, I'd take a 4MP with good low light over a 41MP with okay low light any day, any time.

        • The 4MP camera on the HTC performs well in low-light. But the well-lit photos actually do suffer from low resolution. A better alternative is the Lumia 920's camera. It does incredible low-light and has decent number of pixels too.

          • by anethema (99553)

            If I wanted a phone only for a camera maybe. Me, like almost everyone else on earth, has no interest in windows phones considering the horrible things MS has done to their past customers.

            • my original comment was about the shitty camera only. i wouldn't have minded if it had a decent camera like samsung's phones. but they made a positively crappy camera and are trying to pass it off as something better.

    • by anethema (99553)

      Yeah. HTC one would be my #1 phone to go to right now if their battery was removable. Not because I want to swap batteries (I'm used to my iPhone and not having that ability) but because I'm sick of charging all the time and like the SIII, there will be kits for the S4 so vastly increase your battery at the cost of some thickness. If I had this option with the One, I'd be all over it like a fat kid on a cheeseburger.

      Still might go that way since I like the design so much more than the S4. Have to weigh my o

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:34PM (#43463875)

    they screwed their business themselves

    no brand recognition
    years of constant new phone releases under new names
    crappy support and updates
    crappy software. like a mail client with no push email to MS Exchange subfolders when every other android phone maker was doing it

    • You forgot flouting the GPL at every turn.
      Just try to get the source code for some of there products.

      I like the phone design, but everything else makes sure that I will be avoiding HTC in the future.

      • by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @02:29PM (#43464493)

        It does look like they're starting to mend their ways on that. The One's source is already out with the actual device still more than a week away.

        • Unfortunately, not. They're as bad as ever.

          I've tried getting the kernel code for the Thunderbolt's ICS upgrade. The reply I received was a boilerplate response to the "When's the next update going to be" question. That was last week. So, no I do not think they're getting better. The GPL's source code requirements are a joke unless a kernel dev feels like spending money to hire a lawyer.

          Honestly, if Samsung wanted to trash HTC that's how they should do it. They should contribute code to the Linux kern

  • TL;DR: (Score:5, Funny)

    by DrJimbo (594231) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:44PM (#43463991)

    Microsoft here. You remember all the nasty, sneaky, dirty tricks we've pulled over the years? Well, our latest trick is to make front groups who claim our competitors are now using those same tricks.

  • A Taiwan-based corporation that brings in a lot of revenue to its government is now hurting and then goes to the same government it has given billions to and asks it to investigate the legitimacy of negative articles from its competition which, in turn, creates negative publicity for their competition?
    • by the_B0fh (208483)

      You seemed to have missed the part where they got caught and went "oops, did we do that? So sorry, won't do that again"

      From TFA:

      Samsung Taiwan had originally claimed that it was unaware of the FTC’s actions, but later wrote on its Facebook page that it regretted “any inconvenience and confusion from the Internet event,” adding that “Samsung Taiwan has halted all Internet marketing such as posting articles on websites.”

      Where do all these Samsung Defenders come from, I wonder... I mean, defending the company even after the company admitted doing it... Jesus.

      • Just getting paid, dog. Just gettin' paid. Wait, hold on. My boss is telling me something. What's that, boss? Oh, they we're serious about stopping these internet posts? So I don't get paid for this one? That is some straight up bullshit.

        I just lost my job.

        ~Internet Reviewer for Hire!
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:54PM (#43464117) Homepage

    Whenever a company uses illegal tactics (I would assume this could be considered defamatory in Taiwan) to advance a product against competitors, just fine them based on a simple fee schedule that is the total number of products sold against the harmed competitor(s) times a sliding scale of severity based on how anti-competitive it was. If that means billions in fines, so be it. Just make it so black and white and inflexible that it becomes a matter of "did you do it?" "Yes?" "Then pay "$x * y" in fines and restitution.

    • by smash (1351)
      Thing is, the people involved with creating/funding laws don't want that, because it means that when THEY do it, it is unambiguous.
  • Samsung Ads (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlreadyStarted (523251) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @02:06PM (#43464235)
    Does anyone else notice that many Samsung ads seem less about the products and more about making other people feel bad? I don't own an iPhone, but whenever I see a Samsung ad insulting some apple user all I can think is, "Boy those guys are jerks." If I need a product and the Samsung one is superior I'll probably buy it, but it would cross my mind that I don't want to be a jerk like the people in their ads.
    • There's no comparison between Samsung's latest phone and the newest iphone. Their ads just want to point that out. People need to know that iphones are shit compared to a galaxy S2/3/4 and the best way to tell them is by insulting iphone users.

    • You're right. And Apple never did any "And I'm a PC" adverts aimed at making PC owners feel like they had an inferior product.

      Meanwhile on planet reality...
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @02:08PM (#43464269)

    Definitely no other company does this.

  • The fact that we have the word 'astroturfing' to describe this kind of thing should be a pretty good hint that this happens.

    People pay for fake Twitter followers, good reviews, bad reviews of competitors, position papers, and all sorts of crap. It's all about managing your brand and the message.

    I find nothing at all surprising about this revelation, and I strongly suspect many corporations do the exact same thing.

    Hell, Microsoft, the oil industry, the tobacco industry, political parties and the *AAs routin

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The fact that we have the word 'astroturfing' to describe this kind of thing should be a pretty good hint that this happens.

      Astroturfing is a different thing; it's when a company creates a political lobbying group disguised as a "grassroots" organization. (Fake grass, get it?) Calling this "astroturfing" makes no sense, since there is no such thing real grassroots support for a company like Samsung.

      This is a negative variation on shilling: paying people to badmouth your competitors (as opposed to traditional shilling, which is paying people to talk up your own product.)

      Shilling is to advertising as astroturfing is to lobbying.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Astroturfing is a different thing; it's when a company creates a political lobbying group disguised as a "grassroots" organization.

        Now that you've said all that. Go google for the definition of astroturfing and tell me if any of them support your assertion. Every one I can find also includes pumping products in it. Or are you going to assert that your own personal definition trumps all of the other ones?

        Calling this "astroturfing" makes no sense, since there is no such thing real grassroots support for

  • for almost a year i read how awesome the galaxy S3 is. then my father in law got one and i played around with it. nice phone but nothing special. i'll keep my iphone 5

    guerrilla marketing at its best

  • I wont mind talking negatively about android and samsung for free...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm posting anonymous for a reason (fear of retaliation from Samsung)

    I've followed the story since it first broke out in Taiwan. What Samsung did was not just bad review. They essentially flooded forums with flame, troll, fake discussion to create a viral campaign.

    For example, a hired writer would post under ID "A" asking, which phone is better, Samsung vs HTC. Then the same guy would login using ID "B" to write good review about Samsung phone. He would then use a 3rd ID "C" to pretend to be an HTC supporte

  • Not afraid to say that I really like Samsung devices and have never been paid for it, name one other manufacturer who lets you add an extended battery and 64gb Micro SDXC card to their phones these days. For me that's a good enough reason to stick with them

    It is an interesting article though because I've had similar thought's about HTC recently on certain other tech and Android forums the amount of HTC One posts is way beyond any other phone and most of them are full of nonsense reasons why the One is bette

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