A 'cash for comment' scandal has rocked Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung, after documents were leaked showing the company's marketing firm had paid Taiwanese students to write negative comments on social networking pages and review sites about rival HTC devices.
The leaks came from Taiwanese Samsung-related news website taiwansamsungleaks.com, which released documents that allegedy came directly from Samsung's hired marketing outlining the various posts it had made across the internet last year.
One such post contained a complaint from a user, supposedly a Taiwanese student, that his girlfriend's HTC One X phone crashed constantly, and that Samsung's Galaxy Note was "superior".
Samsung denied in a statement that it had received a notice from Taiwan's Free Trade Commission but said the news was an "unfortunate incident" that had gone against its "fundamental principles".
"Samsung Electronics Taiwan (SET) has ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments," it said in a statement.
The full statement reads as follows:
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.
Samsung Electronics Taiwan (SET) has ceased all marketing activities that involve the posting of anonymous comments, and will ensure that all SET online marketing activities will be fully compliant with the company's Online Communications Credo.
We regret any inconvenience this incident may have caused. We will continue to reinforce education and training for our employees to prevent any future recurrence.
If found guilty of false advertising from Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission, the company could reportedly face fines of up to $811,000.
According to AFP, the company was fined around $10,000 earlier this year for allegedly "engaging in misleading advertising" about its Galaxy Y Duo range.