Fakespot, an app that analyzes Amazon reviews to determine which ones are fake, is no longer available for iOS. Amazon has successfully convinced Apple to remove it from the App Store after the company raised concerns that the application provides misleading information and creates potential security vulnerabilities. The e-commerce giant has confirmed to Engadget that it reported Fakespot for investigation. One of its biggest concerns, Amazon told us, was that the redesigned app Fakespot launched in June "wraps" and injects code into its website.
"Wrapping" would make it possible, in theory, for the app to collect data and put customers' sensitive information, including credit card numbers, at risk. The e-commerce titan told us it got in touch with Fakespot directly to address its security concerns and that the app developer didn't take action.
Amazon said in a statement:
"Amazon works hard to build a shopping experience that delights customers, and a selling experience that empowers brands and sellers to build and grow their business. The app in question provides customers with misleading information about our sellers and their products, harms our sellers’ businesses, and creates potential security risks. We appreciate Apple’s review of this app against its Appstore guidelines."
Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah has admitted to CNBC that his company collects some user data, but he said that it doesn't sell information to third parties. Further, he denies Amazon's claim that the app presents security risks. "We don't steal users' information, we've never done that. They've shown zero proof and Apple acted on this with zero proof," he told the publication. Apparently, Apple didn't give his company adequate warning before the app was taken down and didn't even give it a chance to rectify any issue the tech giant may have.
While Apple has yet to issue a statement that would clarify why exactly Fakespot was pulled down, Amazon pointed Engadget to two App Store guidelines, in particular. One of those guidelines states that an app that displays content from a third-party service must secure permission from that service. The other prohibits applications from displaying false information.
Back in early 2020, Amazon went after another add-on used to track prices and discount: Honey, a $4 billion PayPal acquisition. People using Honey saw a warning on Amazon's website that said the extension "tracks [their] private shopping behavior, collects data like [their] order history and items saved, and can read or change any of [their] data on any website [they] visit."
Update 07/17/21 10:50AM ET: A spokesperson told us Apple reached out to Fakespot weeks before pulling it from the App Store, contradicting Khalifah's claim that his company didn't get adequate warning. The Apple spokesperson said:
"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. On June 29, we again reached out to Fakespot weeks before removing their app from the App Store."