Info-tech

Google removes over 600 apps from Play Store to crack down on mobile ad fraud

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on February 21, 2020

File photo   -  REUTERS

Google on Thursday announced that it has removed over 600 apps from its Google Play Store in an attempt to counter mobile ad fraud.

The search giant had removed the apps for violating two of its app policies.

“As part of our ongoing efforts — along with help from newly developed technologies — today we’re announcing nearly 600 apps have been removed from the Google Play Store and banned from our ad monetization platforms, Google AdMob and Google Ad Manager, for violating our disruptive ads policy and disallowed interstitial policy,” said Per Bjorke, Senior Product Manager, Ad Traffic Quality in a company blog post.

Google defines disruptive ads as ads that pop up on a user’s device in unexpected ways and hinder the overall user experience.

“We define disruptive ads as ads that are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions. While they can occur in-app, one form of disruptive ads we’ve seen on the rise is something we call out-of-context ads, which is when malicious developers serve ads on a mobile device when the user is not actually active in their app,” the post further read.

The company has not disclosed the exact list of developers and apps removed from its app store. However, one of the biggest developers that were banned from Play Store and Google’s ad networks was a Chinese company Cheetah Mobile which had been accused of major ad fraud in 2018, BuzzFeed News reported. Google had removed the company’s offending app while retaining its remaining apps on its store.

The removed apps had been installed more than 4.5 billion times and primarily targeted English-speaking users. The developers of these apps were mainly based in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India, the report further said.

The tech giant had also removed the UAE based ToTok app earlier this month, 9to5Google had reported. The app was allegedly used by the government of the United Arab Emirates to spy on users’ conversations, location and social connections, The New York Times had reported in December. The app was temporarily removed and was uploaded on Google’s Play Store back again in January.

Google will further be reviewing more apps and will continue to crack down on disruptive and suspicious apps on its Play Store.

“As we move forward, we will continue to invest in new technologies to detect and prevent emerging threats that can generate invalid traffic, including disruptive ads, and to find more ways to adapt and evolve our platform and ecosystem policies to ensure that users and advertisers are protected from bad behaviour,” Bjorke said.

Published on February 21, 2020

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