Apple removes fake review identifier from App Store following Amazon complaint [u]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 19
Amazon on Friday said it complained to Apple about an app called Fakespot, which it claims inaccurately identified fraudulent sellers and fake reviews, leading to the title's removal from the App Store.

Fakespot


Fakespot bills itself as a data analytics firm that applies artificial intelligence to the task of detecting false reviews and reviewers on a variety of sites including Amazon, TripAdvisor, Walmart and Yelp, according to its website. The goal of the program is to protect consumers from misleading information, the company says.

Amazon, which is facing a growing problem of fake or incentivized reviews, in a statement said Fakespot "provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers' businesses, and creates potential security risks" when it uses tools that do not adhere to Amazon's own grading system, reports CNET.

The e-commerce giant said it performed a review of Fakespot ratings and found that the third-party firm's findings were incorrect 80% of the time, the report said. Amazon also complained that a recent version of the Fakespot app was "wrapping" its website without permission, or allowing users to log in and view Amazon's storefront with a "secure shopping" overlay, reports The Verge. That unauthorized access, and the fact that Fakespot injects code into its website, could lead to data theft, Amazon contends.

In a statement to The Verge, Amazon said it believes Fakespot violates guideline 5.2.2, a rule dealing with third-party site and service permissions.
Third-Party Sites/Services: If your app uses, accesses, monetizes access to, or displays content from a third-party service, ensure that you are specifically permitted to do so under the service's terms of use. Authorization must be provided upon request.
Amazon started the takedown process in June by informing Apple of potential App Store violations and the tech giant seemingly booted Fakespot from the App Store on Friday. Apple has not commented on the matter.

Fakespot founder Saoud Khalifah confirmed the takedown in a statement to The Verge, saying Apple alerted him to the removal in a three-line email.

"Apple hasn't even given us the ability to solve this," Khalifah said. "We just dedicated months of resources and time and money into this app."

Fakespot is commonly sited in reports about fraudulent Amazon reviews. That fact was apparently not lost on Amazon, which reportedly attempted to counter the third-party review rating app by purchasing search ads against the "Fakespot" keyword. Khalifah said his app was installed some 150,000 times on iOS.

"Amazon is willing to bully little companies like ours that showcase the cracks in their company," Khalifah said.

Update: Apple disagrees with Khalifah's take on the matter and in a statement to The Verge said Fakespot was informed of Amazon's complaint in June. The developer was given multiple warnings before its app was ultimately pulled from the App Store.

"This was a dispute over intellectual property rights initiated by Amazon on June 8 and within hours we ensured both parties were in contact with one another, explaining the issue and steps for the developer to take to keep their app on the store and giving them ample time to resolve the issue," Apple said. "On June 29, we again reached out to Fakespot weeks before removing their app from the App Store."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    Oh cool. Now is Apple going to remove Amazon's app for selling copyright-infringing crap from china?
    sdw2001stompywhittonmdysamoriaviclauyycforgot usernameqwerty52urahara
  • Reply 2 of 28
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,668member
    Yeah, this is at least a bad look for both companies.  Amazon doesn’t like the app.  They shouldn’t be able to use their size and power to get Apple to destroy it.  
    patchythepiratewhittonmdysamoriaviclauyycwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 28
    I’ve used Fakespot for a long time and have been happy with the insight. Both the IOS app and the website.

     This seems like a “hide the bad product features” move by Amazon.
    patchythepiratedysamoriaforgot usernameuraharawatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 28
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 589member
    Apple should not have to host any app they don't like in their app store.

    Apple should not be allowed to prevent me from installing any app I like on MY iPhone.

    There's a very simple solution here.  Apple MUST be forced to allow device owners to install software from any source they choose.  It's the same issue in the Epic case, I would never suggest that Apple should be forced to host Epic's software, but if Epic wants to distribute software outside of Apple's app store, any mechanism Apple uses to prevent that is clearly and blatantly an illegal abuse of their monopoly of the iOS software market.

    It's time for antitrust law to come down HARD on Apple.
    edited July 16 sirdirelijahg
  • Reply 5 of 28
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    How interesting Apple is now censoring apps because some company is saying the apps is making them look bad. All restaurant owers should demand Apple remove yelp since it allows users to place bad reviews and makes thier business look bad.

    Most time when I see something for sale on Amazon and it looks too good to be true I run it through those fake review websites and most times it usually is was not good. 
    patchythepirateviclauyycelijahg
  • Reply 6 of 28
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,467member
    darkvader said:
    Apple should not have to host any app they don't like in their app store.

    Apple should not be allowed to prevent me from installing any app I like on MY iPhone.

    There's a very simple solution here.  Apple MUST be forced to allow device owners to install software from any source they choose.  It's the same issue in the Epic case, I would never suggest that Apple should be forced to host Epic's software, but if Epic wants to distribute software outside of Apple's app store, any mechanism Apple uses to prevent that is clearly and blatantly an illegal abuse of their monopoly of the iOS software market.

    It's time for antitrust law to come down HARD on Apple.
    Blah blah blah blah blah.  Whatever. 

    No. There are no anti-trust issues.  Apple never sold you an open system.  They sold you a system with access to the app store.   anti-trust doesn't mean what you think it means I guess 
    edited July 16 ioniclep-dogsdw2001ArchStantonviclauyycFileMakerFellerforgot usernameqwerty52jibronn
  • Reply 7 of 28
    darkvader said:
    Apple should not have to host any app they don't like in their app store.

    Apple should not be allowed to prevent me from installing any app I like on MY iPhone.

    There's a very simple solution here.  Apple MUST be forced to allow device owners to install software from any source they choose.  It's the same issue in the Epic case, I would never suggest that Apple should be forced to host Epic's software, but if Epic wants to distribute software outside of Apple's app store, any mechanism Apple uses to prevent that is clearly and blatantly an illegal abuse of their monopoly of the iOS software market.

    It's time for antitrust law to come down HARD on Apple.
    You brought the wrong device. Please return the where you purchased abs ask for refund because owner is not from this planet.

    ioniclep-dograbidfanbasesdw2001ArchStantonviclauyycjibronnuraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 28
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    Rule 5.5.2 is pretty clear.  

    It’s bad form to alter the content of someone else’s website without their permission, which is what Fakespot is doing. Apple has banned other apps for doing the same thing. 

    The solution is to write a share extension that takes you to their own app from the Amazon website or app. That way they could present the same information without hacking Amazon’s content. 

    p-dogdewmeCloudTalkinFileMakerFellerronnDetnatorwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 28
    fred1fred1 Posts: 828member
    I don’t buy from Amazon any more, but when I look at books on their site I’m always amazed that some of the reviewers do things like give the book only two stars because “the book arrived three days later than promised.”  Internet reviews have completely lost their credibility and removing this app is a sad confirmation of this. At least the web site is still there (until it’s mysteriously shut down!). 
    MplsPdysamoriarobabapatchythepirateviclauyycwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 28
    So its OK for Facebook and Twitter to propagate vaccine lies that hurt people but Amazon can get Fakespot removed because it says that it does not perfectly identify fake reviews?  Oh, I get it, "show me the money"
    fred1MplsPdysamoriamuthuk_vanalingamviclauyycelijahguraharajony0
  • Reply 11 of 28
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,250member
    whittonm said:
    So its OK for Facebook and Twitter to propagate vaccine lies that hurt people but Amazon can get Fakespot removed because it says that it does not perfectly identify fake reviews?  Oh, I get it, "show me the money"
    I agree - if inaccuracy is the concern then the Facebook app should also be removed. And the Amazon app, too!

    I long ago quit shopping Amazon. Their business practices and the way they treat their employees are atrocious and something I won’t support - I can almost always find other stores that sell what I need, or, simply go straight to the vendor. Half of Amazon has devolved into a glorified flea market that sells nothing but cheap Chinese knockoffs, anyway.

    As far as reviews go, fake reviews are rampant in general, but they are especially so on Amazon. Even after I quit shopping Amazon I would use their reviews, but I quit doing that, too, because they were so tainted. Perhaps Amazon should focus on the actual problem rather than an app that is unmasking their problem. 
    dysamoriafred1FileMakerFellerelijahguraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,429member
    I’ve no experience with this app, but I have plenty of experience with Amazon’s BS “marketplace”. There are fake reviews all over the place, and that’s on top of near-zero quality-control on legitimate “reviews”.

    Here’s another thing: I posted a review for a scam product to warn people about it (a so-called “FireWire to USB adapter”, which does not and cannot exist; best case scenario is that it does nothing, but it can also damage your mainboard), and Amazon deleted the review.

    This product is still sold on Amazon by several scammy sellers and Amazon do nothing. This is literally an illegal practice (selling a fake product that is also potentially harmful to the user’s computers/devices), and Amazon do nothing about it.

    Between these two companies, the far bigger need for strong regulation is Amazon. There’s already existing law not being enforced. Tech companies get away with things that other companies never would (or wouldn’t for long). There aren’t enough resources allocated to this kind of regulation, and we know why: lobbying and anti-regulation politicians.
    edited July 17 viclauyycforgot username
  • Reply 13 of 28
    darkvader said:
    Apple should not have to host any app they don't like in their app store.

    Apple should not be allowed to prevent me from installing any app I like on MY iPhone.

    There's a very simple solution here.  Apple MUST be forced to allow device owners to install software from any source they choose.  It's the same issue in the Epic case, I would never suggest that Apple should be forced to host Epic's software, but if Epic wants to distribute software outside of Apple's app store, any mechanism Apple uses to prevent that is clearly and blatantly an illegal abuse of their monopoly of the iOS software market.

    It's time for antitrust law to come down HARD on Apple.

    Or, you know, you could buy a different device.

    What I think can and will happen with these antitrust lawsuits is that Apple will open up to third-party billing outside of their services and cut down on fees to make it more palatable for developers.  Ultimately it's going to be Apple deciding if they are giving an inch only for Epic Games to take a mile should they voluntarily or through court decision make this move.

    What I find fascinating is that people here are slamming Apple and demanding free use of their iPhone to install anything they want.  You bought an Apple-produced device running iOS.  It's going to run applications written in accordance to the terms and conditions set forth by Apple, to which you and developers agree to because you want to use these products and sell your wares.  When you don't like the terms, because you feel they are too restrictive because one game or app wants to give you 8,000 in-game credits using their own payment processor and sell you on a discount by going direct, you bitch about the agreement.  You call it unfair, but in turn don't offer a sustainable model to replace it.  You want Epic Games to have their own App Store?  You aren't defeating Goliath, you are growing a new one. 

    What you want and need are guidelines for any and all software marketplaces to abide by, so that all the players on the field are following the same rules.  The problem is, you aren't going to get those kind of rules easily.  There will be disagreements over blood, gore, and violence.  Sex, drug use, and adults-only content will be desired as well.  Apple cannot imagine a future where pornography apps are prevalent on the iPhone or any of its "i" devices, but it may one day be the norm.  But before we reach nirvana, you are going to have Epic stores, Valve stores, etc.  They are going to have pissing contests over exclusive apps and games, fees, and more.  The initial competition will benefit consumers short-term, but you will have problems.  This isn't a time where a "will come to that bridge when we cross it" will suffice.  You have to create a sustainable alternative that the platforms can migrate to.  
    edited July 17 thtDetnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 28
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,668member
    darkvader said:
    Apple should not have to host any app they don't like in their app store.

    Apple should not be allowed to prevent me from installing any app I like on MY iPhone.

    There's a very simple solution here.  Apple MUST be forced to allow device owners to install software from any source they choose.  It's the same issue in the Epic case, I would never suggest that Apple should be forced to host Epic's software, but if Epic wants to distribute software outside of Apple's app store, any mechanism Apple uses to prevent that is clearly and blatantly an illegal abuse of their monopoly of the iOS software market.

    It's time for antitrust law to come down HARD on Apple.
    That’s not how any of this works.  The “market” is not iOS.  IOS/iPhone are products.  They don’t even have a majority market share, much less a monopoly.  An antitrust lawsuit on these grounds would be laughed out of court.  


    ArchStantonthtjiburaharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 28
    Freedom of speech is a piece of cake! (or shit?)
  • Reply 16 of 28
    Hank2.0Hank2.0 Posts: 126member
    There's a very simple solution here.  Apple MUST be forced to allow device owners to install software from any source they choose.  It's the same issue in the Epic case, I would never suggest that Apple should be forced to host Epic's software, but if Epic wants to distribute software outside of Apple's app store, any mechanism Apple uses to prevent that is clearly and blatantly an illegal abuse of their monopoly of the iOS software market.
    You're right, it is simple! All you need to do is to agree that if the non-Apple-sanctioned app doesn't work or in any way damages your Apple device or in any way damages you physically, mentally, financially, or any other way, you will not receive any technical or repair support from Apple nor can you take any legal or civil action against Apple. And of course, if your non-Apple-sanctioned app causes any damage to any Apple-sanctioned apps, you will be libel for damages from legal actions by those apps developers.
    Detnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 28
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,810member
    This is something that needs to be resolved between Amazon and Fakespot. Amazon has legitimately identified a violation that should result in Fakespot being removed from the App Store and Apple obviously agrees. The ball is now in Fakespot's court. It's unfortunate that Apple once again got dragged into the fray. This has nothing to do with Apple. If Fakespot fixes their app so it no longer violates App Store rules, they can get back in, whether Amazon likes it or not.

    I'm as offended as anyone about the fake and paid-for reviews on Amazon. I get solicited almost daily for paid reviews. I've spoken with Amazon and they do nothing. This app appears on the surface that it is trying to help, but they are also advancing their own self interests by collecting user data along the way. They aren't doing this as a charity for you and me, they are doing this to make money.

    I want someone to help fix the real problem with Amazon, but they have to do it the right way. The right way includes playing by Apple's house rules when inside Apple's house, not trying to make Apple look like the bad guy by enforcing the rules already in place, and focus on going after the real source of their grief, which is not Apple. I'm sick of third parties trying to use Apple and its standing and reputation to advance their own pet peeves and self interests. If two of my neighbors want to duke it out, they'd better not try to do it in my yard.
    canuckleheadFileMakerFellerronnuraharaDetnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 28
    netlingnetling Posts: 53member
    As a product owner and somebody who was in touch with fake spot when it started, I unfortunately have to agree with Apple and Amazon on this one. I had a conversation with the owner who basically said “I can promote any product that I want, how I want!  It’s my company and I don’t care if you don’t like my results whether they’re correct or not“. Needless to say, fakespot said my products had a D rating and we never paid, solicited or manipulated any of our reviews and we had a 4.8 rating after 600 reviews. Being that fake spot does not have access to the real internal review data they are at best guessing the reviews are real or fake, hence Amazon saying that they are 80% inaccurate. 
    tokyojimuforgot usernamejibronndysamoriastompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    danoxdanox Posts: 599member
    darkvader said:
    Apple should not have to host any app they don't like in their app store.

    Apple should not be allowed to prevent me from installing any app I like on MY iPhone.

    There's a very simple solution here.  Apple MUST be forced to allow device owners to install software from any source they choose.  It's the same issue in the Epic case, I would never suggest that Apple should be forced to host Epic's software, but if Epic wants to distribute software outside of Apple's app store, any mechanism Apple uses to prevent that is clearly and blatantly an illegal abuse of their monopoly of the iOS software market.

    It's time for antitrust law to come down HARD on Apple.

    Or, you know, you could buy a different device.

    What I think can and will happen with these antitrust lawsuits is that Apple will open up to third-party billing outside of their services and cut down on fees to make it more palatable for developers.  Ultimately it's going to be Apple deciding if they are giving an inch only for Epic Games to take a mile should they voluntarily or through court decision make this move.

    What I find fascinating is that people here are slamming Apple and demanding free use of their iPhone to install anything they want.  You bought an Apple-produced device running iOS.  It's going to run applications written in accordance to the terms and conditions set forth by Apple, to which you and developers agree to because you want to use these products and sell your wares.  When you don't like the terms, because you feel they are too restrictive because one game or app wants to give you 8,000 in-game credits using their own payment processor and sell you on a discount by going direct, you bitch about the agreement.  You call it unfair, but in turn don't offer a sustainable model to replace it.  You want Epic Games to have their own App Store?  You aren't defeating Goliath, you are growing a new one. 

    What you want and need are guidelines for any and all software marketplaces to abide by, so that all the players on the field are following the same rules.  The problem is, you aren't going to get those kind of rules easily.  There will be disagreements over blood, gore, and violence.  Sex, drug use, and adults-only content will be desired as well.  Apple cannot imagine a future where pornography apps are prevalent on the iPhone or any of its "i" devices, but it may one day be the norm.  But before we reach nirvana, you are going to have Epic stores, Valve stores, etc.  They are going to have pissing contests over exclusive apps and games, fees, and more.  The initial competition will benefit consumers short-term, but you will have problems.  This isn't a time where a "will come to that bridge when we cross it" will suffice.  You have to create a sustainable alternative that the platforms can migrate to.  

    Apple has been too wishy-washy about the rules to many of their big Silicon Valley friends (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Uber, Amazon, and Netflix) all of whom have gotten away crossing the line and have been allowed to crawl back in.
    elijahgdysamoria
  • Reply 20 of 28
    Apple did not remove this app to protect Amazon. Amazon was able to find a specific Apple App Store guideline that Fakespot violates. Apple has no choice but to remove the app as a result.

    This has nothing to do with censorship but rather holding a company accountable to its own rules. I’m sure if Fakespot was able to find a way to eliminate this violation, its App will be re-approved.
    dewmeFileMakerFellerRayz2016jibronnwatto_cobra
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