As of today, 46 apps from Chinese developer DO Global have been removed from the Google Play Store, according to a report from BuzzFeed. The apps were listed with different publishers, but they were all developed by the same company and had gathered millions of downloads on the platform.
The removal of these apps follows an earlier investigation by BuzzFeed and Check Point Research, that revealed the Chinese firm was using fraudulent advertisement tactics in many of its apps. Specifically, these apps were intentionally triggering fake clicks on advertising banners inside the app, as if the user had actually clicked on them. Ads are the most common source of revenue for many apps, which explains why companies would resort to this kind of strategy.
These fraudulent tactics were discovered in just six apps, but Google's own investigation marked most of them for removal. In addition to these ad practices, apps were listed with generic names for publishers and even hosted their privacy policies on Tumblr with no mention of who owns the app. A source close to the matter says that the company will be removing even more of DO Global's apps, with the intent of banning the developer altogether. Prior to today's removals, there were over 100 apps by DO Global on the Play Store, collectively gathering over 600 million installs.
While DO Global may not be a familiar name to most people, the firm is partly owned by Baidu, and actually spun off from it last year. Every now and then, Google removes apps that violate its policies from the Play Store, and this is just another case of that. Hopefully, this will help keep users safe from ill-intentioned apps in the future.