Amazon Shopping app in Google Play Store on Android smartphone.
Christoph Durnbach | photo combine | Getty Images
Apple has removed Fakespot, a well-known app for detecting fake product reviews, from its App Store after Amazon complained it provided misleading information and potential security risks.
FakeSpot’s app works by analyzing the credibility of Amazon listing reviews and grades it from A to F. It then provides recommendations to buyers for products with high customer satisfaction.
Amazon said it reported Fakespot to Apple for investigation, as it was concerned that a redesigned version of the app misled consumers by displaying Amazon’s website in the app with the Fakespot code and content above it. was overlaid. Amazon said it doesn’t allow applications to do this. An Amazon spokesperson claimed, “The app in question provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers’ businesses, and poses a potential security risk.”
As of Friday afternoon, following an Apple review, the app was no longer available on the App Store.
Deceptive or fake user reviews have proven to be a major problem for online retailers including Amazon. The company recently stepped up its efforts to detect and remove fake reviews. Its third-party marketplace, made up of millions of sellers, has been responsible for more than half of the company’s total sales, but it has become fertile ground for fake reviews, counterfeit and unsafe products. Regulators in the US and abroad have taken steps to curb fake reviews on and off Amazon.
As fake reviews continue to spread the Internet, third-party apps and websites have emerged to help find buyers like Fakespot, Reviewmeta, and ReconBob.
Amazon reported the famous fake review detector app Fakespot to Apple for investigation, leading to its removal from the App Store.
It’s unclear why Apple removed Fakespot from its App Store, and Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Amazon pointed to CNBC two subsections of Apple’s App Store guidelines that Fakespot may have violated. One of the guidelines states that apps must ensure that they are allowed to use, access, monetize or display content from a third-party service. Another guideline states that apps should not include false information and features.
Amazon also claims that FakeSpot’s coding technology makes it possible for the app to collect and track information from customers. The company made similar claims last January against PayPal-owned Honey, a browser extension that lets users find coupons when shopping online, warning users it could be a “security risk.”
FakeSpot: ‘He has shown zero proof’
In an interview, Fakespot founder and CEO Saud Khalifa said he disputed Amazon’s claim that the app presents a security risk and said that while Fakespot does collect some user data, it does not sell it to third parties.
Khalifa said many apps use the same coding technique, called “wrapping,” that involves a web browser view, such as coupon providers. He added that many apps and websites also collect and track user information, including Amazon.
“We don’t steal users’ information, we’ve never done that,” Khalifa said. “They have shown zero proof and Apple acted on it with zero proof.”
FakeSpot released a new version of its app in late May. Amazon reported the app to Apple in mid-June, Khalifa said.
Khalifa said he’s upset that Apple didn’t give Fakespot enough warning that the app would be removed from the App Store, or the ability to fix problems with the app.
He said, “Imagine going to a tenant and saying you have to take all your stuff, you have to leave now. To be quite honest with you I feel that way right now.”
FakeSpot’s app is still available on the Google Play Store for Android devices as of Friday evening.