Google is cracking down on fake reviews and ratings for apps on the Play Store, and revealed that it has removed millions of fake reviews and ratings as part of its efforts. The company said that fake and misleading reviews can “undermine users’ trust in those ratings,” and to keep this trust intact was a top priority for them
In a blog post, Google says it wants to “make sure that the ratings and reviews shown in our store are not being manipulated.” Google has also listed ways in which developers could be violating guidelines for the Play Store.
Reviews that violate guidelines, include bad content or reviews, which are profane, hateful, or off-topic. Then there’s fake ratings, which are meant to manipulate an app’s average rating or top reviews. Google says they have seen “different approaches to manipulate the average rating; from 5-star attacks to positively boost an app’s average rating, to 1-star attacks to influence it negatively.”
Fake reviews are major problem on the internet, and not just the Google Play Store. For many users, seeing a positive review for an app, helps them decide on whether to download the same. When fake reviews, or paid reviews help bump up ratings for apps, which might not be that good, it does erode consumer trust, both in the app and the review system.
Google has also highlighted that incentivized ratings or high ratings in exchange for money or other gift are also in violation of the Play Store rules. The company has also appealed to developers to not buy fake or incentivized ratings, or run campaigns inside the app, asking users to give the app five stars in exchange for an in-app item. This also counts as incentivized ratings, and is prohibited by policy.
The company says it is relying on system deployed by the Google Play Trust & Safety teams to weed out these fake reviews. The system “combines human intelligence with machine learning to detect and enforce policy violations in ratings and reviews,” according to the blog. Google has a team of engineers and analysts monitoring for suspicious activity on the ratings and reviews segment.
The company also confirmed that it had removed “millions of reviews and ratings” from the Play Store, though it did not give an exact time frame period for this. Google also says it has identified thousands of bad apps due to suspicious reviews and rating activities on them.