Google removes popular Chinese apps for committing ad fraud

An investigative report by Buzzfeed has found at least six Chinese apps that automatically clicked on ads without the users ever finding out.

    2019/04/19

NSFW    MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA — Google has removed six apps from China from the company's Play Store following a Buzzfeed News investigation.

Buzzfeed reports that they found at least six Chinese apps committing ad fraud and abusing users' permissions on the Android-focused digital marketplace. These apps are part of the DU group, which is a spinoff from Chinese giant Baidu.

All the apps concealed their real identity and were collecting vast amounts of user data then sending it back to China, Buzzfeed reports.

Ad fraud researchers Check Point and Method Media Intelligence found that the apps used a code which allowed them to automatically click on ads without the user ever finding out. This is so that it would be able to generate more income.

The apps were able to do this even when users' didn't open them. The six apps are: Selfie Camera, Total Cleaner, Smart Cooler, RAM Master, AIO Flashlight and Omni Cleaners.

Google has since pulled the popular Chinese apps and released a statement indicating that they would hire more people to evaluate apps in order to "prevent prevent bad-faith developers from gaming our systems."

Richard Kramer, a senior analyst with Arete Research told Buzzfeed News, "Ad fraud is simply the norm in China, and Google should be doing far more to prevent it. They cannot claim ignorance of, or deny the problem."
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