The Amazon Shopping App in the Google Play Store on an Android smartphone.
Christoph Dernbach | Image Alliance | Getty Images
The Fakespot app analyzes the credibility of the reviews of an Amazon offer and rates them with grades A to F. Then buyers receive recommendations for products with high customer satisfaction.
Amazon said it reported Fakespot to Apple for investigation after worrying that a redesigned version of the app confused consumers by displaying the Amazon website in the app with Fakespot code and content overlaid on top of it. 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 creates potential security risks.”
On Friday afternoon, after a review by Apple, the app was no longer available in the App Store.
Misleading or fake user reviews have proven to be a major problem for online retailers, including Amazon. The company has has recently stepped up its efforts to identify and weed out fake reviews. The third-party marketplace, made up of millions of sellers, accounts for more than half of the company’s total revenue, but has become fertile ground for fake reviews, counterfeiting, and unsafe products. Regulator in the USA. and abroad have taken steps to curb fake reviews on and off Amazon.
As fake reviews spread the internet, third-party apps and websites have sprung up to help shoppers spot them like Fakespot, ReviewMeta, and ReconBob.
Amazon has reported the well-known fakespot detector app Fakespot to Apple for investigation into what triggered its removal from the App Store.
It’s unclear why Apple removed Fakespot from its App Store, and Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Amazon referred CNBC to two subsections of Apple’s App Store Policies who may have hurt Fakespot. A policy states that apps must ensure that they are allowed to use, access, monetize access to, or display content from third parties. Another guideline is that apps shouldn’t contain incorrect information and functionality.
Amazon also claims that Fakespot’s coding technique enables the app to collect and track information from customers. The company last January made similar claims against PayPalHoney, a browser extension that allows users to find coupons while shopping online and warn users that it may be a “security risk”.
In an interview, Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot said he denied Amazon’s claims that the app posed security risks and said that while Fakespot collects some user data, it does not sell it to third parties.
Khalifah added that many apps use the same coding technique called “wrapping” to include a web browser view, such as coupon providers. He said many apps and websites also collect and track user information, including Amazon.
“We don’t steal user information, we’ve never done that before,” said Khalifah. “You showed zero evidence and Apple acted with zero evidence.”
Fakespot released a new version of its app at the end of May. Amazon reported the app to Apple in mid-June, Khalifah said.
Khalifah said he was upset that Apple Fakespot failed to provide adequate warning that the app would be removed from the App Store or that issues with the app could be fixed.
“Imagine going to a tenant and saying you have to take all your belongings with you, you have to leave immediately. That’s how I feel right now, to be completely honest with you, ”he added.
The Fakespot app is still available on the Google Play Store for Android devices from Friday evening.