Google starts filtering fraudulent app reviews from Play Store

Google is enhancing its fraud detection system for Play Store installs and reviews in an effort to build trust with users.

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(Image: Jason Cipriani/ZDNet)

When browsing the Google Play Store for a new app, be it for a specific use case or just the top charts, it's often helpful to look at user reviews to determine any shortcomings. It's those reviews that can make or break a user tapping the install button, generating income for the developer.

Naturally, developers are bound to find and use methods that enhance the likelihood of a user installing his or her app.

Boosted install numbers, fake reviews, and paying for ratings are just some of the methods that can impact a developer's bottom line.

Google, however, is doing what it can to minimize a developer misleading users. The company on Monday announced it has boosted its platform for fraud detection and filtering in the Play Store.

Going forward, when its system detects installs designed to boost ranking or fake reviews, those actions will get filtered from the results and have zero impact on the app's listing.

Actions such as manipulating app rankings and download numbers are against the Google Play Developer Policy, meaning if a developer is caught trying to game the system and doesn't heed Google's warnings, the company can revoke the developer account and remove all apps from the Play Store.

Google's announcement comes a few months after Apple informed iOS developers it was time for the company to clean out the App Store. Developers of abandoned apps that were no longer updated or functioning were given a chance to submit an updated version, otherwise Apple would remove the app from its app store.

As someone who had one such abandoned app in the App Store, I can confirm Apple is doing just that. After being informed my app no longer met the App Store's guidelines, I was given a month to update it. Upon the end of that timeframe, my app was removed from the store.

More recently, Apple revoked a developer's account and removed his apps from the store after the company found a pattern of fraudulent reviews using a second, linked developer account.