Controversy erupted last week when Apple cancelled the account of a popular developer app called Dash. Apple told the developer “they found evidence of App Store review manipulation,” an accusation the developer denied, but Apple has proof.
Apple’s anti-fraud team has apparently been working with the developer for some time to stop fraudulent positive reviews, and negative reviews on competitors accounts. According to Apple, all attempts to work with the developer have failed, resulting in the account being terminated.
“Almost 1,000 fraudulent reviews were detected across two accounts and 25 apps for this developer so we removed their apps and accounts from the App Store,” Apple spokesperson, Tom Neumayr, said in a statement provided to The Loop on Monday. “Warning was given in advance of the termination and attempts were made to resolve the issue with the developer but they were unsuccessful. We will terminate developer accounts for ratings and review fraud, including actions designed to hurt other developers. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, on behalf of all of our customers and developers.”
It’s really important to note that this has been going on for quite some time—it’s not a quick decision that Apple made on the spur of the moment last week. In fact, a warning was first sent to the developer two years ago, but the behavior did not change.
The integrity of the App Store is as important to Apple as it is to consumers. When you read a review on the store, you want to know that it’s real. In some cases, they can be the deciding factor on which app you purchase and download.
This is part of the reason we trust Apple and the App Store. They found inconsistencies in a developers account, tried to work with them to resolve the issue, and took decisive action to protect developers and customers when their attempts failed.
It seems to me Apple has given the developer every opportunity to change the behavior that started this whole mess. I don’t think we can ask any more from Apple in these types of situations. App Store fraud cannot be tolerated.