In an official statement to the SD Times, Samsung had this to say:

“The promotional activity in question was clearly against Samsung Electronics corporate policy, and the contracted agency responsible for planning this promotional activity was made aware of this fact. Since then, all relevant plans have been cancelled prior to their implementation. We remain committed to engaging in transparent and honest communications with consumers.”

StackOverflow has also reached out  to Samsung directly, on the heels of yesterday’s revelatory blog post by Android developer Delyan Kratunov on being approached by digital marketing company Fllu about promoting the 2013 Samsung Smart App Challenge in exchange for compensation.

Fllu offered Kratunov and others US$500 to pose “organic” questions on Q&A programming site StackOverflow over the next month, spreading the word about the App Challenge. Kratunov declined, and the blatant astroturfing has ceased. Read the full story here.

Yesterday, when the story broke, commenters had a lot to say. Mainly, they said this wasn’t the first time Samsung had been accused of the shady practice of “astroturfing,” and that they’re far from the only tech company who employs it.

On Kratunov’s original story, commenter Daniel Svoboda said, “Examples of Samsung’s unethical marketing keep on popping up; the company clearly believes that it is perfectly justifiable by reaching the simple goal of making [the] most money possible. If one believes values are important to companies as well as consumers, they are setting themselves up for a failure.”

“Astroturfing” is defined as “The deceptive tactic of simulating grassroots support for a product, cause, etc., undertaken by people or organizations with an interest in shaping public opinion.”

Commenters on Kratunov’s blog, Hacker News and our story’s post on Slashdot mentioned that companies like Apple, Microsoft and Sony have been accused of the same thing time and again over the years.

Apple was forced to block 1,000 iPhone apps in 2009 after developer Molinker was found writing fake positive reviews on their extensive stable of iPhone apps. Less than two months ago, Microsoft was caught allegedly astroturfing positive posts about the Xbox One on Reddit. Sony resorted to the same tactics in 2006, creating fake PSP fansites. These examples are only a few drops in the bucket.

When these stories come out, they often ignite mass outrage and arguments, inadvertently giving these companies’ products the publicity they sought in the first place. On Hacker News, user mwfunk wrote, “Astroturfing is one of those things that by itself probably has limited impact, but a much worse side effect: fueling paranoia in online communities and giving dumb people one more tool in their flame war [trolling] toolbox.”

Astroturfing in the tech industry is universally frowned upon and continually denounced, yet that doesn’t stop companies from trying it again and again through marketing companies, only to deny the accusations until the next time they’re caught.

On the Slashdot post, user ADRA commented, “Samsung and every other company on earth do lousy borderline sleazy marketing on our holy grails of developer purity, but in reality this happens all the time pretty much everywhere, so the [answer] is:
 1. Fix humanity 
2. Deal with it.”