Google Bans Developer With Half a Billion App Downloads From Play Store for Alleged Fraud

Apr 26, 2019
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Google is fairly vigilant when it comes to the Play Store. Previously, the company had banned several apps that 'generated' fake IDs and even some cryptocurrency apps. It is not often that Google targets a particular developer but instead focuses on multiple apps that are in breach of the Play Store policy. Today, Google is banning a major Android developer DO Global and removing its apps from the Google Play Store after it was discovered the company was committing ad fraud.

DO Global has more than 100 apps on the Play Store that have already been removed. The remaining are expected to be gone in the coming days. DO Global also appears to have been banned from Google's AdMob network. It means that the company is no longer allowed to market its products through Google's mobile advertising service. Google spokesperson said in a statement to Buzzfeed:

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We actively investigate malicious behavior, and when we find violations, we take action, including the removal of a developer’s ability to monetize their app with AdMob or publish on Play

DO Global is partly owned by Chinese tech firm Baidu and their apps have racked up more than 600 million total downloads in the Play Store. While DO Global isn't the first app developer to get banned from Google's marketplace, it is one of the biggest. The company claims to have more than 250 million monthly active users for its apps, and the ability to reach 800 million users through its ad platform.

The fraud was detected by Check Point security which found at least six of the company's apps included code which misled users into clicking on advertisements even when they weren't using the apps. The apps in question had generic names such as Selfie Camera and Total Cleaner. Additionally, users were not made aware of the fact that the apps were owned by DO Global, which violates the Play Store policy. Google's decision to ban all apps from the developer is a bold one. Earlier this year, Cheetah Mobile and Kika Tech were committing ad fraud, but Google responded by only removing the misbehaving apps instead of taking action against the developer.

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