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4/16/2013
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Samsung Investigated For Anti-HTC Smear Campaign

Taiwan officials look into claims that Samsung hired online trolls to post nasty things about HTC products.

Samsung Galaxy S 4 Takes A Bow
Samsung Galaxy S 4 Takes A Bow
(click image for slideshow)
Samsung is accused of playing dirty in Taiwan. Officials there are investigating claims that Samsung hired students to post nasty things about HTC online. "The case was set up last week after we received complaints," said Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission spokesman Sun Lih-chyun.

Internet users in Taiwan filed complaints after seeing a number of articles appear online that besmirched HTC's products and suggested that consumers purchase unlocked Samsung handsets instead.

The content of the posts was not revealed, but the probe will look into whether or not Samsung engaged in false advertising. If the allegations prove to be true, Samsung could be fined as much as $835,000, according to AFP.

Samsung said it was not aware of any official investigation, but it offered a mea culpa of sorts on its local Facebook website.

"Samsung Electronics remains committed to engaging in transparent and honest communications with consumers as outlined in the company's Online Communications Credo. We have encouraged all Samsung Electronics employees worldwide to remain faithful to our Credo. The recent incident was unfortunate, and occurred due to insufficient understanding of these fundamental principles," the company said in its statement.

[ Should Samsung spend more time on design than marketing? Read Samsung Rethinks Smartphone Build Quality. ]

Samsung also took action. It ceased all marketing activities "that involve the posting of anonymous comments." Further the company said that it would be sure that all online marketing materials are consistent with its official credo.

"We regret any inconvenience this incident may have caused," said Samsung. "We will continue to reinforce education and training for our employees to prevent any future recurrence.

HTC's headquarters are located in Taiwan, which is the company's home market. That means Samsung took the fight to where it might sting HTC the most.

The incident appears to be isolated, but considering HTC's own guerrilla tactics against Samsung, perhaps Samsung's actions don't come as much of a surprise.

When Samsung launched the Galaxy S 4 in New York City in March, HTC's U.S. social media team was on hand talking to people standing in line for the Galaxy S 4 launch about the HTC One, and handing out hot cocoa. HTC didn't go so far as to suggest anything false about Samsung's products, but it did garner some press thanks to its ballsy move. HTC also sent reps to Times Square, where Samsung had set up a large tent for consumers to watch the Galaxy S 4's unveiling live. The next day, HTC reps said the Galaxy S 4 lacked innovation and was more of the same from Samsung.

Both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S 4 are expected to become available in the U.S. by the end of the month.

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