Apple Removes Fake Review Detector App at Amazon’s Request

According to CNet, Apple has removed Fakespot — a “data analytics” service that claims to detect fake reviews and malicious sellers on Amazon, from the App Store after a month of deliberation between the three companies.

Fakespot’s iPhone app had been on the App Store for a couple of years, amassing about 150,000 downloads. Apple says the removal is the result of “a dispute over intellectual property rights initiated by Amazon on June 8.”

In a statement on Friday, July 16, Amazon said that Fakespot “provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers’ businesses” when it grades listings and sellers on its own scale, which Amazon knows nothing about and is separate from Amazon’s reviews system.

“This system is broken,” said Fakespot CEO Saoud Khalifah. It is no secret that Amazon has a fake review problem so extensive that it has even seeped into social media platforms like Facebook. The eCommerce platform ranks products with positive reviews higher, giving sellers incentive to solicit fake reviews for their listings.

“It’s a consumer right to know when you’re reading a fake review, if you’re getting a counterfeit, if you’re getting a product that is fraudulent that is going to harm you,” said Khalifah.

“We use artificial intelligence that has been trained to pick up on patterns,” said Fakespot about its service. Fakespot analyzes the reviewer’s writing, their profile, and other reviewer data for a given product to determine the legitimacy of a review. “The more data that flows into the system, the better the system gets at detecting the fakes.”

According to a blog post from Amazon on the subject, the company has removed over 200 million suspected fake reviews before they made their way to product pages listed by one of 1.9 million third-party sellers on the platform. The eCommerce giant also regularly terminates product listings with high fake review traffic.

Khalifah said his service is designed to detect and highlight the fraud that routinely occurs on Amazon’s platform, accusing the latter of trying to cover it up.

Amazon looked into products labelled as untrustworthy by Fakespot, and said that it found the service’s judgement to be incorrect 80% of the time.

Apple said that it reached out to Fakespot on June 29 before removing the app. Apple’s App Store policies prohibit apps that spread “false information”, as well as apps that access another company’s service without permission, and the Fakespot app was ultimately removed.

Khalifah finds it frustrating that Apple removed his app, designed to provide users with a more transparent view of products being sold on Amazon, while taking no action against a platform that is teeming with fake reviews and disingenuous sellers. “It’s hypocrisy,” said the Fakespot CEO.