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Fakespot, which is known for analyzing reviews from popular websites to determine their accuracy, today had its iOS app removed from Apple's App Store.

fakespot-ios-app-removed.jpg

According to The Verge, Amazon sent Apple a takedown request, which led to the app being pulled. Fakespot's iOS app just launched in June, and it was designed to allow users to log into Amazon and buy items while using the Fakespot engine to analyze the reviews.

Amazon said that Fakespot's app was "wrapping" the website without permission and that the app could potentially be exploited to steal Amazon customer data. Amazon sent the initial takedown notice in June, and today, Apple kicked the app from the App Store.

Amazon claimed that Fakespot violated Apple's 5.2.2 App Store guideline that prevents apps from using, accessing, monetizing access to, or displaying content from a third-party service if not authorized to do so. A statement from Amazon said that the app was giving customers "misleading information" about Amazon sellers.
"The app in question provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers' businesses, and creates potential security risks. We appreciate Apple's review of this app against its Appstore guidelines."
Fakespot founder Saoud Khalifah told The Verge that Apple did not give it an opportunity to solve the problem. "We just dedicated months of resources and time and money into this app," he said. He went on to say Amazon's willingness to "bully little companies" showcases "cracks in their company."

A search for Fakespot confirms that the Fakespot app is no longer available for download from the iOS App Store. While it was active, it had more than 150,000 installs.

Fakespot is well known for analyzing Amazon reviews and providing a rating or grade on how many of those reviews come from actual people. Amazon says that it regularly analyzes products with reviews that Fakespot calls out as untrustworthy, but that Fakespot's findings "were wrong more than 80% of the time."

Amazon says that Fakespot does not have the appropriate information to "accurately determine the authenticity of a review." Fakespot's website continues to be active and is available for Amazon shoppers to use, plus there is a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox.

Update: Apple in a statement provided to MacRumors explained that the dispute was between Amazon and Fakespot, and that Fakespot had been contacted multiple times.
This was a dispute over intellectual property rights initiated by Amazon on June 8 and within hours we ensured both parties were in contact with one another, explaining the issue and steps for the developer to take to keep their app on the store and giving them ample time to resolve the issue. On June 29, we again reached out to Fakespot weeks before removing their app from the App Store.



Article Link: 'Fakespot' Removed From Apple's App Store After Complaint From Amazon [Updated]
 
Last edited:

connormw

macrumors member
Mar 24, 2018
36
320
New York
I mean let's be honest here, it's a pretty clear-cut violation of the rules. We all know the App Store rules can be ambiguous and loosely enforced, but this one seems pretty obvious:

5.2.2 Third-Party Sites/Services: If your app uses, accesses, monetizes access to, or displays content from a third-party service, ensure that you are specifically permitted to do so under the service’s terms of use. Authorization must be provided upon request.

The app put Amazon in a wrapper, injected code into the web viewer experience for the functionality, and then was on the App Store as a separate app. We all know if someone made an "Apple Shop Helper" app that showed, say, competing prices elsewhere, that Apple would shut it down in a heartbeat for displaying content from a 3rd party that did not consent to the integration.
 
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AxiomaticRubric

macrumors 6502a
Sep 24, 2010
806
937
On Mars, Praising the Omnissiah
I mean let's be honest here, it's a pretty clear-cut violation of the rules. We all know the App Store rules can be ambiguous and loosely enforced, but this one seems pretty obvious:



The app put Amazon in a wrapper, injected code into the web viewer experience for the functionality, and then was on the App Store as a separate app. We all know if someone made an "Apple Shop Helper" app that showed, say, competing prices elsewhere, that Apple would shut it down in a heartbeat for displaying content from a 3rd party that did not consent to the integration.

The bigger question is: How did this app make it through Apple’s review process?
 
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GadgetBen

macrumors 68000
Jul 8, 2015
1,733
3,376
London
I mean, I applaud their intentions to seek out fake reviews but why can't they simply web scrape and use AI or machine learning? Starting with repeated reviews for example?

Taking on some big fish here. Apple also has a fake review problem. Maybe this made them tetchy, opening a can of worms.
 
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gaximus

macrumors 65832
Oct 11, 2011
1,502
2,482
Amazon claimed that Fakespot violated Apple's 5.2.2 App Store guideline that prevents apps from using, accessing, monetizing access to, or displaying content from a third-party service if not authorized to do so. A statement from Amazon said that the app was giving customers "misleading information" about Amazon sellers.Fakespot founder Saoud Khalifah told The Verge that Apple did not give it an opportunity to solve the problem. "We just dedicated months of resources and time and money into this app," he said. He went on to say Amazon's willingness to "bully little companies" showcases "cracks in their company."
Why would you do this without knowing whether or not Amazon would let yours their data? If Amazon doesn't provide an API, then they probably don't want their data accessible to other companies.
 
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trainwrecka

macrumors 6502
Apr 24, 2007
499
628
Earth
I'm tired of the cheap Chinese knock-off products that break shortly after purchase. The site is flooded with them, because Amazon brings them over by the boatload and delivers them to you next day. Not kidding - it is literally giant tankers bringing them over.

Amazon used to have the best prices on great products. Now it has the best prices, because the products are cheap.
 
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Carlos_X_el_magnifco

macrumors newbie
Apr 27, 2018
23
57
I got nailed by a scammer that stole my credit card details and started ordering crap I didn’t want and sending it to me. It’s part of a scam to boost order number and be able to get “verified purchaser” reviews for crap. It was a spot of work to get it straightened out. Amazon’s got a real problem with these sorts of things and I don’t know how they’d solve it. I can imagine that they don’t want apps like this to highlight the problem.
 
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Adreitz

macrumors member
Oct 15, 2013
33
116
I mean, I applaud their intentions to seek out fake reviews but why can't they simply web scrape and use AI or machine learning? Starting with repeated reviews for example?

Taking on some big fish here. Apple also has a fake review problem. Maybe this made them tetchy, opening a can of worms.
Umm, that's exactly what they do. That is exactly how their analysis works, which is done server-side. It doesn't have anything to do with the fact that an app will improve the user experience on a smartphone, since people won't have to dig up and copy the Amazon product URL, then navigate to Fakespot's site in a browser, then paste the URL into it for Fakespot to analyze.

The June statement is very odd, since I've had Fakespot on my phone for months, maybe over a year. Initially it worked more like a plugin, where you would press the Share button on the product page in the Amazon app, and "Analyze with Fakespot" would appear down at the bottom. This would open a popup browser window within the Amazon app showing the Fakespot page for that product (and the analysis process if it hadn't already been initiated by another shopper). For a while, that functionality disappeared for some reason. I just checked and it is back, though it also provides you the choice to view the analysis in the Fakespot app. Maybe that's what Amazon is bent out of shape about.

And honestly, if Amazon had actually solved the problem of fake reviews, there would be no need for Fakespot. Amazon reviews are the pits. The bots and shills are everywhere, drowning out the actual reviewers and making the whole review feature worthless. I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon's "80% wrong" comment actually means something like "in 80% of Fakespot analyses, we disagree with their rating by one or more grade point". Which basically means that Fakespot isn't 100% precise (due to reliance on machine learning) and it's a convenient talking point for Amazon to trumpet. In my experience, if Fakespot shows an issue with a product's reviews (whether it amounts to an F grade, a D, or a C) that is borne out when I spot check some reviewers. The analysis isn't perfect, but it's certainly good enough and much better than nothing. Which is exactly what Amazon wants -- ignorant shoppers.
 
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ddtmm

macrumors regular
Jul 12, 2010
150
422
Whether the app was accurate or not is one thing, but wrapping Amazon’s site in it is a clear violation in that you can’t take someone’s IP and just repackage it. Who knows what else they can or did change in what people see on Amazon’s site. I can see any company being outraged if someone did that to their company.
 
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jinnj

macrumors 6502
Dec 9, 2011
480
369
Why would you do this without knowing whether or not Amazon would let yours their data? If Amazon doesn't provide an API, then they probably don't want their data accessible to other companies.
"Fakespot founder Saoud Khalifah told The Verge that Apple did not give it an opportunity to solve the problem"
The guy is full of it. The app wasn't suddenly taken down. Once takedown request came in it probably took a week at most to send it over to Fakespot then a few weeks passed and without resolve and it was removed.
 
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nquinn

macrumors 6502
Jun 25, 2020
288
237
tired of the fake reviews.
The thing is, it's not just fake/influenced reviews on Amazon - it's EVERYWHERE.

Your Google search results? Pretty much every top spot for 'best X' is from SEO optimization and total garbage.

Those products youtubers are recommending to you? Paid ad spots are essentially bribed with free products.

Reddit used to be a good source of information, but lately there is a ton of fake feedback. Some of them are obvious and you can ignore, but I fear the reviews/comments that were written very authentically that were actually fake.

At some point here I think trusted individuals will have a lot of value where we can go to them as authorities. Particularly cranky, critical, negative ones that are willing to dig into the flaws and not fear losing sponsorships or free stuff.
 
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turbineseaplane

macrumors G3
Mar 19, 2008
8,252
13,783
The thing is, it's not just fake/influenced reviews on Amazon - it's EVERYWHERE.

Your Google search results? Pretty much every top spot for 'best X' is from SEO optimization and total garbage.

Those products youtubers are recommending to you? Paid ad spots are essentially bribed with free products.

Reddit used to be a good source of information, but lately there is a ton of fake feedback. Some of them are obvious and you can ignore, but I fear the reviews/comments that were written very authentically that were actually fake.

At some point here I think trusted individuals will have a lot of value where we can go to them as authorities. Particularly cranky, critical, negative ones that are willing to dig into the flaws and not fear losing sponsorships or free stuff.

Good points

What do we do?
I'm at a loss

It makes me never want to buy anything - haha
 
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