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  • 1,011 Titles Removed from App Store for Fake Reviews


    Molinker, the prolific Chinese development company behind numerous iPhone apps, saw all its titles pulled from the App Store on Sunday after an attentive user noted that most - if not all - of its five-star reviews appeared to be fake. The scam caused over 1,000 apps - nearly 1% of all of the titles on the App Store - to disappear at once.

    The user, "SCW," contacted a Glyn Evans of the iphoneography blog whom he knew to have contacts at Apple top management. SCW had noted something odd about the glowing (and poorly written) reviews of the "NightCam Pro" app and went through the applications offered by Molinker. As many as 90% of the reviews on some of their applications appeared to be written by a group of people who only reviewed Molinker applications. On “NightCam Pro”, for example, 42 of the 44 5-star reviews appeared to be fake.

    Evans forwarded SCW's email directly to Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.

    Attention Phil Schiller,

    MAJOR FAKE AppStore Reviews & Ratings ALERT:
    Please investigate for I have just looked at 44 of the reviewers who posted reviews for this Molinker Inc app "NightCam Pro" & EVERY Review except 2 of the 44+ are ALL FAKE 5 ★★★★★ reviews. (on my iPhone I could view more reviews but on my computer only 35 were visible & of the 35 visible 34 ARE fake). If you investigate ALL have ONLY reviewed ONLY Molinker apps. A little odd that 42 of 44 US reviews are poorly written & that all users have only written reviews for either All Molinker photography apps (giving 5 star reviews to 6-7 Molinker apps ONLY no other apps by any other developer) or the same 2 apps.
    ...

    I await your reply & hope this grabs your utmost attention. Every moment wasted will result in another user being mislead & purchasing an app due to false reviews & rating results.

    I plan to have this email publicly posted for all iPhone users to see & make their own investigated decision.
    By Sunday night, the entire catalog of Molinker’s 1,011 applications had disappeared, and Schiller sent Evans an email, saying “Yes, this developer’s apps have been removed from the App Store and their ratings no longer appear either.”

    Ma Kun, the listed owner of Molinker's domain, was contacted by Julen of AppFreak and claimed to not know what was wrong.

    Hi Julen,
    Thank you for your message about it.
    We got email from Apple yesterday [Sunday 6th] which told us our contract is changed to pending status.
    Actually, we do not know what's wrong so far. We had contacted Apple for such sudden changes, hope we can get quick response and actions from Apple.
    Since the apps and reviews are all down, it's impossible to form an independent opinion, but the objection seemed well supported by facts and evidence. By all appearances, the developer used its promo codes to create a bunch of bogus reviewers on iTunes as its sockpuppets. It's to be hoped that the debacle would serve as an example to any other unscrupulous developer who would try something like this in the future.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: 1,011 Titles Removed from App Store for Fake Reviews started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 24 Comments
    1. gthugballin's Avatar
      gthugballin -
      I was wondering what types of apps the made...this site has a good list Molinker Inc. iPhone Apps lol note all the apps appear "offline"
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      i see apps like that alot. you can just sense their stink when you read some of the bogus reviews.
    1. desepticon's Avatar
      desepticon -
      Although I usually hate the tight reigns Apple has over the App Store, it allows them to make sweeping decisions like this. I've never heard of such a drastic measure being taken.

      I remember a few years ago something similar happened in the movie review business. Apparently some major movie studios were putting review blurbs in ads from people, and sometimes publications, that didn't even exist. Of course, they somehow weaseled out of it.
    1. vedavis's Avatar
      vedavis -
      I always wondered why “NightCam Pro” never worked right...
    1. hancoma's Avatar
      hancoma -
      Wow, unbelievable! Good the apps are suspended.
      Although I think the whistleblower may have to watch his a** from the Chinese mafia! lol!
    1. southfrisco's Avatar
      southfrisco -
      Quote Originally Posted by desepticon View Post
      Although I usually hate the tight reigns Apple has over the App Store, it allows them to make sweeping decisions like this. I've never heard of such a drastic measure being taken.

      I remember a few years ago something similar happened in the movie review business. Apparently some major movie studios were putting review blurbs in ads from people, and sometimes publications, that didn't even exist. Of course, they somehow weaseled out of it.
      You obviously haven't heard of the infamous Khalid Shaikh who had tons of workers in a foreign country developing and submitting about 15-20 apps per day. Such wonderful apps like iDoom (a Doom soundboard) and hundreds of "celeb" apps that had literally like five photos of the celeb stolen from web sites all for $4.99 (all the apps he submitted were priced at $4.99). He was also the one who had all those sports team "news" feed apps that just linked to a web page for that particular team (he didn't even own these web pages). His dev license was taken away but not after he was able to get well over 600 apps approved. Apple only decided to pull his stuff after lots of people started complaining about copyright infringement on most of his apps.

      Come on Apple, there is still a lot of crap out there. Start cleaning house.

      Oh and back on topic, the shilling reviews happens on more apps than you would imagine. Devs create fake forum profiles too, in order to hail their app/game as something that must be purchased.
    1. mavrik101's Avatar
      mavrik101 -
      All the more reason apps should have a trial period. I, for one, would not purchase any app without trying it first. Reviews? Do you believe everything you read? I think not. No trial, no go.
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      i hate bogus reviewers and it doesn't help with the purchase of the app for customers AT ALL. i want to read something i can potentially trust. Glad they're off. Although, the app could have been good..
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Goof job Apple. Police stupid stuff like this and don't allow GOOD stuff to ever make it to the store. Keep it up
    1. The Maestro's Avatar
      The Maestro -
      They gotta realize quality is better than quantity, stop braging about the number and control !
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      That teaches Apple to stop allowing crappy apps. I also wish that fake reviews were filtered out as well.
    1. Jahooba's Avatar
      Jahooba -
      Just think of all the crappy apps that are still out there! There's still A LOT of cleaning up to do.
    1. tudtran's Avatar
      tudtran -
      Is the review. Y do they have to pulled the apps?
    1. politicalslug's Avatar
      politicalslug -
      Quote Originally Posted by tudtran View Post
      Is the review. Y do they have to pulled the apps?
      Poorly written though your is, I believe I understand what you're asking. Since the developer of these apps is the one providing these false reviews (who else would?) they are inclined to pull the apps themselves. If they didn't, more fake accounts would pop up and more fake reviews would be posted to these shytti shytti apps. Have you even looked at these apps? CRAP! Even if they were legit apps, Apple should never have allowed them into the Appstore.
    1. OctopusPrime's Avatar
      OctopusPrime -
      If all of the crappy apps were removed, then could AT&T still brag that they have over 100,000 apps and that Verizon doesn't?
    1. JAG2621's Avatar
      JAG2621 -
      I always wondered if that was happening. It happens a all the time in regular product reviews (people get paid to write an excellent review for certain products and to downgrade competitive products) and this just proves it was happening in the appstore.
    1. thevmax's Avatar
      thevmax -
      ANOTHER REASON to not purchase from the APP Store!
    1. rwin84's Avatar
      rwin84 -
      LOL Its about time this type of enforcement happened. The review process was changed so people couldnt make fake reviews and fluff-up or put-down peoples apps. I completely agree with this move. Plus, apple just cleaned house for the first time in the F'in flea market that is the Appstore.
    1. wearmaize's Avatar
      wearmaize -
      Fact: most apps have fake reviews. I am a developer, and I give out a couple of free promo codes to myself and friends to get free 5 star ratings. Hundreds of reviews? No. But I recommend that you always eliminate the first couple of reviews from an app as fake.
    1. confucious's Avatar
      confucious -
      If an app has bad reviews it is bad. If an app has good reviews it does not mean it's good.