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M1, StarHub to complain to IDA

Allegations have emerged online that a social media agency promoting a Singtel campaign had asked bloggers to write negatively about the telco's competitors.

StarHub and M1 said yesterday that they will raise the matter with the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA).

Blogger Wendy Cheng, better known as Xiaxue, made the allegation in a post on Saturday. She put up a message, from a staff member of the agency GushCloud, telling its "influencers" (bloggers) to drive sign-ups to a Singtel youth plan by creating buzz about it and also by complaining about the services of StarHub and M1.

Singtel said it did not issue this brief, though it did confirm that GushCloud was one of the agencies it had used in June last year.

"It is not our practice to run negative campaigns against any individual or organisation. This is not the way we manage our marketing promotions," Singtel added.

GushCloud said on its Facebook page that the brief was not meant to be read in isolation "without the full context and verbal briefings".

It added: "We apologise for any misunderstanding."

Yesterday evening, the two other telcos came out with strongly-worded statements.

Ms Jeannie Ong, StarHub's chief marketing officer, told The New Paper: "We are aware of the allegations that an operator may have run social media campaigns to falsely discredit and disparage StarHub's services and network.

"We are deeply disturbed by the tactics employed and the possible damage to our brand. We will be engaging with both IDA and the relevant operator on this issue."

INCENTIVISED

Mr Chua Hian Hou, M1's assistant general manager of corporate communications, told TNP that they were aware that bloggers may have been incentivised "to make false derogatory remarks about our products and services, in order to drive users to a competitive operator".

He added: "Such practices are unethical, and we intend to seek clarification with the relevant operator on this matter. We will also request IDA to look into this..."

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