Fakespot, famous for its web browser extensions that try to get rid of fake product reviews, suddenly no longer has an iPhone or iPad app-because Amazon sent a removal request to Apple, both Amazon and Fakespot confirmed, and Apple decided to remove the app.
The giant retailer says it is concerned about how a new update to the Fakespot app “wraps up” its website without permission, and how that could theoretically be exploited to steal Amazon customer data. But Fakespot’s founder, Saoud Khalifah told The Verge that Apple abruptly dumped the app today without explanation. Apple did not respond to many requests for comment.
The new Fakespot app launched over a month ago on June 3rd, and I can confirm it lets you log into Amazon, browse, and purchase items with the Fakespot overlay on top. I downloaded and tried it a few weeks ago to see if it could help seeing fake reviews on some new purchases, but I couldn’t conclude if it really helped.
Thanks to all our users for making this new iOS app a reality. Together we will stop eCommerce scams. We have more amazing products that will make safe shopping the gold standard for eCommerce. https://t.co/UyUnsOydzK
– Fakespot (@FakespotTweets) 21 Jun 2021
But in mid -June, Fakespot founder said, Amazon initiated a removal notice. And a few hours ago, Apple finally delivered a three-line email about how it regrets that the situation could not be resolved peacefully and Fakespot has now been removed from the App Store. “Apple doesn’t even give us the ability to solve it,” Khalifah said. “We just dedicated months of resources and time as well as money into this app.”
Amazon told us it believes Fakespot violates Apple’s 5.2.2 guidelines, which read:
Amazon also told us that Fakespot injects code into its website, opens attack vectors and puts customer data (including email, address, credit card information, and your browser history) at risk, though it says it doesn’t really know what Fakespot is use this information.
“The app in question provides customers with misleading information about the seller and their products, harms our seller’s business, and poses a potential security risk. We appreciate Apple’s review of this app against its Appstore guidelines,” read a statement from Amazon.
But while Fakespot admits the app injects code to display its own scores, he emphatically denies any vulnerabilities and points out that apps that include web browser displays are common – including coupon apps that look like Amazon “has no problem wrapping browser web views.”
Regardless of the reason, this is a blow for one of the main critics of Amazon’s review system, as Fakespot is always cited in reports of review fraud on Amazon. Amazon even buys search ads with the keyword “Fakespot” in the App Store to reduce the likelihood of app impact:
“Amazon is willing to bully small companies like ours that show cracks in their companies,” Khalifah said, pointing out that Amazon is certainly aware people choose their apps over Amazon’s apps. He says Fakespot obtained 150,000 installs from the iOS App Store, without spending money on marketing.
Amazon says it periodically audits companies that try to issue fake reviews and claims that Fakespot’s ratings are mostly wrong: “We periodically review products where Fakespot rates product reviews as unreliable and their findings are wrong more than 80% of the time. They don’t have the information we have – such as reviewers, sellers and product history – to accurately determine the validity of reviews. ”Amazon shows that it does a much better job of finding the fake reviews itself by analyzing 30 million of them each week, though that’s clearly not the case. stopping the problem of fake surveys and incentives – something we are still investigating The Verge.
Amazon would not say if Google contacted about the version of the Android app, but the app has not been updated since 2019.
The Fakespot founder says the company is considering its legal options now because it believes that mobile phones are the future of shopping. “We see a 60/40 percentage now hovering in mobile hands,” Khalifah told me.