App That Spots Fake Reviews Recommended By Amazon To Apple To Be Removed

Fakespot, a well-known app that is used for detecting fake product reviews, has been removed from its App Store by Apple following complaints from Amazon about the app providing misleading information to users while also presenting potential security risks.

The credibility of an Amazon listing’s reviews is analysed by Fakespot’s app after which the app grants a review a range of grades from A through F. The app then makes recommendations to customers for products that have high customer satisfaction.

There were concerns within Amazon about a redesigned version of the app being used and allegedly confusing the company’s consumers as it displayed Amazon’s website in the app with Fakespot code and content overlaid on top of it, and therefore the e-commerce company reported the app to Apple for investigation, Amazon has said.

It doesn’t allow applications to do this, the e-commerce company said.

“The app in question provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers’ businesses, and creates potential security risks,” said an Amazon spokesperson.

The app was no longer available on Apple’s App Store by Friday afternoon after the iPhone maker conducted a review of the app.

One of the major problems faced by online retailers, including Amazon, is the proliferation of misleading or fake user reviews. In recent times, Amazon has implemented measures for detecting and pulling down fake reviews.

More than half of Amazon’s overall sale revenue is accounted for by the company’s third party marketplace, comprising of millions of sellers. However at the same time, the online marketplace of the company has also become a lucrative space for fake reviews, counterfeits and unsafe products.

Steps to curb fake reviews on and off Amazon have been initiated by regulators in the United States and other countries.  

There has been emergence of third party apps and websites that help shoppers to spot fake reviews, such as Fakespot, ReviewMeta and ReconBob, with the increase in incidents of fake reviews proliferating the internet and online market places.

A dispute with the Fakespot app over intellectual property rights was initiated by Amazon on June 8, Apple said in a statement. Steps to keep their app on the store were provided to Fakespot by Apple, and added that the iPhone maker also gave the app “ample time” to resolve the issue. Apple again attempted to reach out to Fakespot on June 29 and weeks later their app was removed from the App Store.

There were no comments on the issue from Apple and Fakespot.

At the same time, two   subsections of Apple’s App Store guidelines that Fakespot may have violated were pointed out by Amazon. One of the guidelines says that all apps on the App Store must ensure that they are permitted to use, access, monetize access to or display content from a third-party service. The other guideline says that no false information and features should be included in the apps.

(Adapted from CNBC.com)

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