Publicly calling out frauds has always been a risky proposition.
That reality came crashing down hard Friday for an app designed to spot fake Amazon reviews, after Apple kicked it out of its App Store. Apple confirmed in a statement that it removed the app after Amazon reached out.
The news of Fakespot’s outing was first reported by The Verge. We reached out to Apple, Amazon, and Fakespot to confirm the Verge’s reporting.
An Apple spokesperson provided a statement, attributed to the company, which says Amazon kicked off the inter-company beef early in June. It also insists that Apple attempted to give both parties time to work things out.
“This was a dispute over intellectual property rights initiated by Amazon on June 8 and within hours we ensured both parties were in contact with one another, explaining the issue and steps for the developer to take to keep their app on the store and giving them ample time to resolve the issue,” read the statement. “On June 29, we again reached out to Fakespot weeks before removing their app from the App Store.”
Saoud Khalifah, Fakespot’s founder and CEO, sees things differently.
“Apple are claiming that they gave us a notice that they are going to take us down, but these are all template emails that seem to be from a robot,” he explained over the phone. “Anyone would be disappointed with this whole process, especially when your livelihood depends on it,” he added.
Amazon responded after the initial publication of this story.
“The app in question provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers’ businesses, and creates potential security risks,” Amazon claimed. “We appreciate Apple’s review of this app against its Appstore guidelines.”
Fakespot made a name for itself in an attempt to spotlight the documented fake-review business plaguing Amazon product reviews. That effort seems to have drawn a lot of attention to Fakespot, both welcomed and otherwise.
“Amazon has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes.”
During the phone call, Khalifah disputed Amazon’s claims and critiqued Amazon’s way of doing business.
“Amazon has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes,” he said. “They care about their bottom line more than they care about their consumers.”
And unfortunately, those fake products and the bogus reviews which prop them up just got a little harder to spot for Apple users.