Earlier last week, there were a number of fake five-star WhatsApp reviews to be found on the Google Play Store. Now, Gmail, Chrome, Messenger, and Firefox are all the latest victims to be saturated in five-star spam that wrongly refers to the word "game" in reference to non-game apps.
The Next Web found more than 5,000 reviews referencing "games" for these popular apps since February 2017.
What games? Chrome, Gmail, Messenger, Firefox—yeah, none of these top-downloaded apps provide viewers with games or winning bonuses, unfortunately.
Telegraph originally broke the story that between February 22 and March 21, the average ratings of WhatsApp started to drop, and then thousands of five-star reviews started to come in like the The Great Flood.
TNW's tech writer, MIX, confirmed that it's not only WhatsApp that has experienced this anomaly, but that all of these apps appear "to have received approximately the same number of fake reviews for the period between January 1 and March 27, marking a significant spike during March."
This is all suspicious enough, but if you scroll through AppAnnie, the San Francisco-based company that produces business intelligence tools and market reports for apps, you may notice that all those fake WhatsApp reviews have now disappeared. The fake five-star reviews for Messenger, Gmail, and the likes, have also been erased. It seems Google is handling the situation since TNW has been notifying them about these illegitimate ratings.
No suspicious reviews can be found on Apple's App Store, which means that the spam-fueled activity is limited only to the Play Store.
There are some suspicions that companies may be sending in spam bots to boost its average ratings, though WhatsApp denies any involvement. And why would Google use such an obviously spammy approach to push their own apps? These spam reviews are usually pretty obvious and don't make a company look better when they have thousands of reviews referencing a "game" that everybody knows doesn't exist.
Google has been making a point to crack down on any apps filled with spam that affect its overall ratings. After last week though, it was clear that spam apps were still winning the good spam fight. Now, Google seems to have taken care of eliminating those fake "fun" and "lovely" reviews before anyone could believe that WhatsApp or Gmail was "a great bonus winning game."