Fraud and abuse are still common in Google and Apple app stores

Reports show that both Apple and Google have been unable to eliminate fraudulent and abusive apps from their app stores despite increased security.


February 13, 2019

According to new reports from The Washington Post and TechCrunch, Apple and Google still host dozens of illegal and abusive apps in their app stores, despite efforts to clean up their act.

After struggling to rein in fraud for years, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store increased security. But that hasn’t stopped porn apps, illegal gambling apps, and apps that abuse women from thriving in their e-stores.

The long, dirty process of cleaning up app stores

Early online stores were app-solutely awful: Apps to rate women, pay people for fake reviews, trash talk other people, scam users, and harvest data were rampant.

Apple was the first to try to clean things up, removing more than 47k apps and tightening up its screening process in September 2016. The next month, Google rolled out a new system to detect fraudulent apps.

But, nefarious apps have still slipped through the cracks

Dozens of porn apps and illegal gambling apps sneaked into Apple’s App Store by gaming its Enterprise Certificate program designed to let large companies build in-house employee apps.

Both Google and Apple host an app called Absher, an app that helps men track and control women in Saudi Arabia (where it’s still illegal for women to travel without the approval of a male “guardian”).

Of course, part of what makes it so difficult for Google and Apple to police their own stores is the sheer scale: At the end of last year, Google’s Play Store featured more than 2.1m apps and Apple’s App Store had more than 2m.

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