Apple accepted Amazon’s request to boot an app that spots fake reviews from the App Store. Its owner has accused Amazon of bullying.

Tim Cook and Jeff Bezos
Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon chair Jeff Bezos.

  • Apple on Friday removed the app Fakespot from its App Store at Amazon’s request.
  • Amazon complained Fakespot misled customers, broke App Store rules, and posed a security risk.
  • Fakespot’s CEO said he was shocked by the turn of events.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Amazon got Apple to remove an app called Fakespot from the App Store on Friday, as reported by the Verge and CNBC.

Fakespot is an app that flags when product reviews on shopping apps like Amazon’s are likely to be fake or bot-generated.

According to the Verge, Amazon filed a complaint with Apple on June 8 saying that Fakespot displays Amazon’s website inside its app, which breaks Apple’s rules. The rules in question state that apps displaying third-party content must have permission from that third party.

Amazon also said Fakespot misleads customers and created a security risk with the way it put code into Amazon’s website to display its ratings.

“The app in question provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers’ businesses, and creates potential security risks. We appreciate Apple’s review of this app against its Appstore guidelines,” an Amazon spokesperson told the Verge.

Fakespot’s CEO Saoud Khalifah denied the app has any security vulnerabilities, in an interview with the Verge. He added: “Amazon is willing to bully little companies like ours that showcase the cracks in their company.” He said Fakespot had 150,000 downloads when Apple removed it.

Read more: Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series A

Saoud’s said Apple has given Fakespot little opportunity to fight back since Amazon initiated proceedings on June 8, and he told CNBC the takedown notice was sudden and unexpected. “Imagine going to a tenant and saying you have to take all your stuff, you have to leave right now. That’s how I feel right now,” he said.

Apple disputes this, saying it gave Fakespot “ample time” to resolve the issue with Amazon. Speaking to the Verge, Khalifah said between June 8 and Friday, the process consisted of Fakespot and Amazon arguing against each other with Apple providing no guidance. “I’m shocked Apple decided to side with Amazon without any proof,” he told the Verge.

At time of writing, Fakespot remains on the Google Play Store for Android phones, where it has more than 50,000 downloads.

Fakespot, Amazon, and Apple did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider for comment.

Fake reviews have been a big PR problem for Amazon. The tech giant is facing an investigation in the UK over fake reviews and in June, it issued a statement saying social media companies need to do more to stop the sale of fake reviews on their platforms.

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