Amazon just removed Fakespot from the iPhone app store – here’s why



Fakespot, the software that analyzes the integrity of reviews on Amazon, Walmart and eBay, had its app removed from the iOS App Store just a month and a half after a new updated version went live.

The precise reasoning and order of events are disputed, but something that seems to agree by all parties involved is that Amazon had something to do with it. This isn’t even denied by Amazon itself, which told The Verge that the Fakespot app unlocks an attack vector that could put customers at risk, as it acts as a wrapper on the main website.

“The app in question provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, interferes with the activities of our sellers and creates potential security risks,” the statement said.

The in-app purchase experience that exhibits the suspected attack vector is new to the app. Previously, the iPhone experience required users to share products through the Amazon site or the mobile app for a significantly less smooth experience.

For its part, Apple said it tried to mediate between Amazon and Fakespot. “This was an intellectual property rights dispute initiated by Amazon on June 8 and within hours we made sure the two sides were in contact with each other, explaining the issue and the steps for the developer to take to keep their app on the store and give them ample time to resolve the issue, ”the company said in a statement.“ On June 29, we contacted Fakespot again weeks before removing their app from the App Store. “

Fakespot founder Saoud Khalifah said this account of events makes Apple much more involved than it was. Khalifah noted that Apple mentioned on June 29 that it “may be forced to remove” the app, but gave no indication of what could be done to stop it.

“I am shocked that Apple has decided to side with Amazon without any proof,” Khalifah told The Verge. “We just spent months of resources, time and money on this application. Apple didn’t even give us the option to fix this problem.

As bad as that is for the little guy, Apple is probably on pretty safe ground here, as its own App Store rules have a clause that seems to be pretty strong when it comes to third-party services. Point 5.2.2 reads as follows: “If your app uses, accesses, monetizes access to or displays content from a third-party service, ensure that you are specifically authorized to do so in the terms of use. of service. Authorization must be provided upon request.

While there are plenty of apps that seem to get around this rule without penalty (coupon finder apps, for example), it’s pretty clear that Amazon would not have authorized an app that questions the integrity of its reviews. (wrongly, he argues). The real question, perhaps, isn’t why Apple agreed to take the app down, but why it got approved in the first place.

For now, Fakespot remains accessible via the Web and on the Google Play Store; although the Android version has not been updated since 2019.



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