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BlackBerry denies fake BBM reviews as Samsung fined

BlackBerry says it has nothing to do with a swathe of fake reviews on Google Play, while Samsung has been fined for paying writers to badmouth rivals.

If you can't trust anonymous Internet commenters, who can you trust? BlackBerry has denied it has anything to do with a vast swathe of positive -- if overwhelmingly badly written -- reviews of its BBM messenging app on the Google Play Store.

Samsung, meanwhile, has been fined around NT$10 million (around £210,000) by Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission after it admitted paying online commenters to slag off its phone-making rivals -- including Taiwan-based HTC.

"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," BlackBerry told The Next Web. "We have no knowledge of how these reviews were created or populated. We do not approve of or condone such activities."

BBM finally launched for Android and iOS on Monday, having been delayed for months -- leaving a vacuum into which poured many fraudulent fakes. Yesterday blogger Terence Eden noted thousands of reviews had appeared on Google Play all saying the same thing: "Thank you so much blackberry team. I was waiting this app. Its really great user friendly and smooth."

Meanwhile in Taiwan, Samsung hired a "large number of writers" via intermediary companies to badmouth HTC and other phone makers online, according to the country's FTC organisation. The pro-Samsung sock puppets were also charged with "disinfecting negative news", ie expressing support or incredulity on stories that made the Korean company look bad.

When the FTC opened its investigation back in April, Samsung said it had stopped hiring companies that engaged the services of anonymous astroturfers in Taiwan.

Have you noticed a surfeit of oddly familiar comments for one company or another? What should the authorities and sites like CNET do to stop this kind of dubious marketing? If they're so badly written they're obviously fake, does it really matter? Let me know what you think with a genuine comment below, or over on our non-anonymous Facebook page.