Google removed 46 apps from the Play Store and reportedly has banned a Chinese developer from its app store for committing ad fraud and abusing user permissions.
According to a BuzzFeed News report, Chinese developer DO Global, which is partially owned by Baidu, used code in several apps to generate fake ad-clicks in its apps. Researchers found at least six apps contained code and that it ran in the background, generating clicks even when the app was closed.
DO Global had as many as 100 apps on the Play Store, many listed under other developer names. According to BuzzFeed, Google removed 46 of them, including popular file manager ES File Explorer.
“We take our responsibility to protect users and advertisers seriously, and invest in tools and resources to fight fraud and abuse globally,” Google told The Verge in a statement. Further, the company said it actively investigates malicious behaviour and takes action when it finds violations. Action can include removing a developer’s ability to monetize apps through AdMob and revoking their ability to publish on the Play Store.
DO Global posted an official statement on its website, saying that it understands and accepts Google’s decision after an internal investigation found “irregularities” in the way some apps used AdMob advertisements. You can read the full statement below:
In the past week, we have noticed a series of reports about our apps by the media. We fully understand the seriousness of the allegations. As such, we immediately conducted an internal investigation on this matter. We regret to find irregularities in some of our products’ use of AdMob advertisements. Given this, we fully understand and accept Google’s decision. Moreover, we have actively cooperated with them by doing a thorough examination of every app involved.
We would like to thank the media, our partners, and the public for their support. Moving forward, we will strictly follow relevant regulations and continue conducting a comprehensive review of our products. Lastly, during this process, we have caused misunderstandings and great concern due to our being unable to communicate in a timely manner and provide complete information. We offer our sincere apologies.
Update 04/29/2019: Added DO Global’s official statement on the matter and noted that ES File Explorer was among the removed apps.