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.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Amazon and Google are being investigated by a UK regulator over fake reviews on their sites

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

  • A UK regulator is investigating whether Amazon and Google have done enough to stop fake reviews.
  • The CMA said it’s looking into whether Amazon and Google have failed to protect shoppers.
  • Amazon recently urged social-media firms to help it prevent fake reviews on its site.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Britain’s competition regulator has opened a formal investigation into Amazon and Google over concerns the tech giants have not done enough to combat fake reviews on their sites.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Friday that it would now gather further information to determine whether the firms may have broken consumer law by taking insufficient action to protect shoppers from fake reviews.

The move comes after an initial CMA investigation, which opened in May 2020, and assessed several platforms’ internal systems and processes for identifying and dealing with fake reviews.

Read more: Amazon hunger games: retail giant forces employees to decide whether or not their colleagues on a last-chance performance plan get fired

The regulator said it was also concerned that Amazon’s systems had failed adequately to prevent and deter some sellers from manipulating product listings, through for example co-opting positive reviews from other products.

Some merchants are also buying fake reviews “in bulk” online, according to a February report by Which. One fake-review site offered 1,000 reviews for $11,000, while another said it could help Amazon sellers achieve the coveted Amazon’s Choice status within just two weeks. Some sites asked for free or discounted products in exchange for reviews.

Groups selling Amazon reviews have also popped up on social-media sites such as Facebook and Telegram. In a blog post last week, Amazon said that social-media firms needed to spend more money helping it root out “bad actors” who use their platforms to gather fake reviews.

Insider spoke to some of the fake reviewers in February, including one who had a product refunded after deleting a negative review she had left. Another compared the fake-review phenomenon to mystery shopping.

“Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations,” Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA, said.

“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake 5-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

Amazon said in February that it prohibited the abuse of its review features by both sellers and reviewers. It suspends, bans, and takes legal action against accounts that violate these policies, it said, and it analyzes more than 10 million reviews each week.

It reportedly removed 20,000 product reviews in September after a Financial Times investigation suggested that some of the site’s top UK reviewers may have profited from leaving positive ratings.

Read the original article on Business Insider