Samsung’s “astroturf” campaign in Taiwan earlier this year has been met with swift justice. The astroturfing campaign – a term used to describe promoting a product via underhand tactics such as publishing fake positive reviews or negative ones on competing products – appeared to have been part of a marketing strategy of an external marketing team hired by Samsung Electronics Taiwan (SET), and seemed to specifically target Samsung competitor HTC.
After six months of investigation, the Taiwanese Fair Trade Commission has ruled the Korean company guilty as charged, and has fined Samsung over $340,000. For their part in the campaign, two local marketing firms have also been fined a combined $100,000.
Unfortunately, astroturfing cases are unlikely to go away. Just this week, the BlackBerry Messenger app for Android and iOS was finally released, and claimed 10 million downloads in the first 24 hours after its release. That number alone should have been a good, solid compliment for the BlackBerry team behind BBM. Unfortunately, some parties felt that wasn’t enough.
A large number of positive reviews on the app has appeared on the Google Play Store, and all feature the same set of sentences, making it a lot easier to spot. Naturally, BlackBerry has responded with a statement, and like Samsung, they appear to have no knowledge on the matter, or who are behind them, and will working with Google to resolve the issue. Here’s the company’s statement in full:
“We have been made aware of a number of potentially fake reviews of BBM for Android on Google Play, with ratings anywhere from one to five stars. We have no knowledge of how these reviews were created or populated. We do not approve of or condone such activities. There are also many genuinely great and useful reviews from our new BBM users on Google Play. We would like to encourage our fans and users to continue to provide true assessments of the BBM experience through the proper channels.”