Fakespot removed from the App Store following Amazon takedown notice

App Store
App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has removed the Fakespot app from the App Store at Amazon's request.
  • A recent update to the app meant it was displaying Amazon in its own wrapper — a violation of App Store rules.

Fakespot is an app used to help people spot when an Amazon review is fake, but a recent update has caused it to be removed from the App Store following Amazon complaints.

As reported by The Verge, Fakespot was removed from the App Store after Amazon complained that it was displaying its website within a wrapper, something that Apple expressly forbids unless permission has been given. Amazon had not given any permission and in fact very much doesn't want Fakespot to do what it was doing — so Apple pulled the app. Now, questions remain about the process rather than the outcome.

After Fakespot founder Saoud Khalifah initially told The Verge that Apple wasn't giving it the opportunity to fix things, nor warned it the app was in danger of being removed from the App Store, it turns out that might not be the case at all.

Apple offered the following by way of statement to The Verge.

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.

Khalifah later confirmed that Apple did warn that it "may be forced to pull" the app from the store, something it ultimately did.

The rule Fakespot is falling foul of here is one related to how the app displays content from Amazon, and it seems pretty cut and dried.

5.2.2 Third-Party Sites/Services: If your app uses, accesses, monetizes access to, or displays content from a third-party service, ensure that you are specifically permitted to do so under the service's terms of use. Authorization must be provided upon request.

Amazon also says that Fakespot injects code into its website, something that could open up an attack vector and put customers at risk.

In this instance it seems difficult to see how Apple could have done anything other than remove Fakespot from the App Store. Predictably, Fakespot's Khalifa says the team "will explore all the options we have available."

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.