Apple on Friday removed the Fakespot app from the iOS App Store. Fakespot is a service that filters and hides fake product reviews on Amazon. The iOS app came last month, but now it has been taken down at the initiative of Amazon itself.
Did Fakespot need permission to expose fake reviews while shopping on Amazon?
According to Fakespot’s founder Saoud Khalifah, Apple did not bother to explain the reasons why they removed the app. However, the developers confirm that Amazon sent them a removal notice in June, which is probably why the iOS app is no longer available to iPhone and iPad users.
Communicates “misleading information” about the sellers
The app integrates with Amazon’s website and identifies fake reviews on product pages. Amazon claims that the app injects code that can damage users’ data in addition to conveying “misleading information” about the sellers.
Amazon also says that Fakespot injects code and endangers customer data (email addresses, credit card information and browser log), but they “do not know if Fakespot uses this information”.
Amazon: No issues with coupon apps
Fakespot admits that the app injects code to show its own score, but categorically denies that it causes vulnerability and points out that apps that include browser service are common – including coupon apps that Amazon “does not seem to have a problem with”.
Amazon confirms that they have asked Apple to remove the app under Guideline 5.2.2, which prohibits developers from using third-party content in an app without permission. Apple has previously used the same guidelines to ban third-party apps that integrate with Tesla vehicles.
Amazon bought search results for “Fakespot”
5.2.2 Third Party Websites / Services: If your app uses, accesses, monitors access to or displays content from a third party service, you must ensure that you are specifically permitted to do so in accordance with the Terms of Service. Authorization must be given on request.
Fakespot developers pointed out that Amazon purchased search results for the keyword “Fakespot” in the App Store to prevent users from finding the app. If you search for “Fakespot” in the App Store, the Amazon app first comes with ad tagging. Fakespot had 150,000 iOS installations while it was available in the App Store.
Amazon is willing to fight small companies that uncover cracks in their facade.
Saoud Khalifah, Fakespots founder
Khalifah suggests that Amazon must have realized that people chose Fakespot over Amazon’s own app. He says that Fakespot had 150,000 installations from the iOS App Store without spending money on marketing.
Amazon itself claims that they already have the necessary tools to identify and stop false reviews, and claims that third-party services that claim to do this are “mostly wrong”.