Amazon just got Fakespot booted off Apple’s iOS App Store

Fakespot is a web browser extension that tries to filter out fake product reviews. Fakespot suddenly has no iPhone or iPad app. Amazon sent Apple a takedown order, Fakespot confirmed, and Apple removed the app.

The giant retailer claims it was concerned that a Fakespot update was “wrapping” its website unpermitted and how that could theoretically be exploited to steal customer data. The Verge was informed today by Saoud Khalifah, founder of Fakespot. Apple removed the app without giving any explanation. Apple confirmed that it had removed the app but denied the circumstances.

Fakespot launched a new app a little over a month ago. I can confirm that it allowed you to log in to Amazon and browse and then buy items with Fakespot overlay. It was downloaded, and I tried it out a few weeks back to see if it could spot fake reviews for new purchases. However, I wasn’t able to conclude if it really helped.

Fakespot’s founder says that Amazon sent a takedown notice in June. Khalifah says that Apple sent a three-line email just hours ago stating that it was sorry that the situation could not be resolved amicably and that Fakespot had been removed from the App Store. Khalifah says, “We have just invested months of resources, time, and money in this app.” “Apple hasn’t even given us the capability to solve this,” Khalifah says.

Apple told The Verge hours after publishing this story that it wasn’t true

“This was an intellectual property dispute initiated by Amazon on June 8, and we made sure both parties were in touch within hours. We explained the issue to each other and gave them plenty of time to solve the problem. Fakespot was contacted again on June 29th, weeks before we removed their app from the App Store.

Khalifah confirmed that Apple had mentioned on June 29th that Fakespot would be removed from the App Store. However, he insists that Apple has never given any guidance and that the conversation was only between Fakespot and Amazon, where they argued their sides before Apple pulled the app. Khalifah says, “I’m shocked Apple chose to side with Amazon sans any proof.”

Amazon claims that Fakespot has violated Apple’s guideline 5.2.2.

5.2.2 Third-Party Websites/Services On request, authorization must be given.

Amazon tells us Fakespot injects code onto its website. This opens up an attack vector that puts customer data (including email addresses, credit card info, and browser history) at risk. However, Amazon claims it doesn’t know if Fakespot is actually using this information.

“The app in question gives customers misleading information about our sellers, their products, and harms our sellers’ business. It also poses security risks. Amazon released a statement saying that Apple had reviewed the app by its Appstore guidelines.

Fakespot admitted that the app injects code to display its scores. However, he strongly denies that there is any vulnerability. Fakespot also points out that many apps include a browser view. This includes coupon apps. Amazon tried to warn against browser coupon extension Honey last January by suggesting that it could pose a security threat.

It doesn’t matter why. It’s a setback to Fakespot, who is frequently cited in Amazon reviews about fraud. Amazon bought search ads in the App Store against the keyword “Fakespot” to decrease the app’s impact.

Khalifah states that Amazon is ready to bully small companies like ours, which shows how Amazon realized that people prefer their app over Amazon’s. Fakespot, he claims, has racked up 150,000 iOS App Store installs without spending any marketing dollars.

Amazon claims it audits companies who try to spot fake reviews. They also claim that Fakespot’s ratings of products are often wrong. “We review products where Fakespot rated reviews as untrustworthy. Their findings were incorrect more than 80% of the time. They don’t have the information they have, such as a seller, reviewer, and product history, to determine authenticity and legitimacy accurately. Amazon claims that it does a better job at finding fake reviews by analyzing 30 million each week. However, that hasn’t stopped incentivized and fake reviews — something that we are still investigating at The Verge.

Amazon would not say whether it had contacted Google regarding the Android version; however, that app has not been updated since 2019.