Craig Silverman, reporting for BuzzFeed News:
One of the biggest developers banned from the Play Store and
Google’s ad networks was Cheetah Mobile, a publicly traded Chinese
company that BuzzFeed News revealed in November 2018 had been
engaging in ad fraud. The following December, Google removed
one of the offending apps but allowed Cheetah to continue
offering other apps in the Play Store. As of this morning,
Cheetah’s entire suite of roughly 45 apps in the Play Store was
removed, and the apps no longer offer advertising inventory for
sale in Google’s ad networks.
Per Bjorke, Google’s senior product manager for ad traffic
quality, told BuzzFeed News the removed apps, which had been
installed more than 4.5 billion times, primarily targeted
English-speaking users and were mainly from developers based in
China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India. He declined to name
specific apps or developers but said many of the banned apps were
utilities or games. Google published a blog post today with
details about the removals.
I don’t understand why Google was so lenient with Cheetah Mobile until now. BuzzFeed News’s investigation clearly showed they were fraudsters. They hadn’t made a mistake, it wasn’t a bug or misunderstanding — they were ripping off users. Just ban them, and keep an eye out for any attempts to return under a new name. Like I’ve been advocating for Apple’s App Store, there ought to be a bunco squad that hunts down scams and rackets of all sorts and gets them out of the store.
Google has even more leeway to be aggressive on this front, because Android allows sideloading apps. The Play Store is not the only supported way to install apps on Android devices.
★ Friday, 21 February 2020