Fakespot app pulled from Apple store after Amazon complaint

The Fakespot app used by consumers to avoid buying counterfeit goods online has been pulled from the Apple store, after Amazon complained that it could contravene the privacy of users of its platform.

The Fakespot app – which is also used to spot fake reviews for products and unreliable sellers – had only been available on the Apple store for a little over a month before the takedown request from the eCommerce giant. It remains available on the Google Play store for Android devices.

Fakespot was previously available as an extension for web browsers, but the app allowed users to browse shopping sites directly with its functionality built in. The company says it was pulled from the Apple store " without proper notice…and without any explanation or evidence of wrongdoing."

"According to the takedown notice delivered by Amazon, Fakespot supposedly 'provides customers with misleading information about [our] sellers and their products…'. The Amazon notice offered no support for that claim," said the company's chief executive Saoud Khalifah in a statement.

Amazon maintains that Fakespot injects code into sites that can compromise users' data, according to a report published in The Verge. Specifically, it claims it violates permissions requirements for third-party apps and injects code that could be used as "an attack vector" to harvest user data.

Khalifah pointed out to The Verge that the Fakespot app is no different than many other apps on Apple's App Store - including browsers and coupon apps – that operate in similar ways.

Apple says meanwhile there was a dispute over intellectual property rights initiated by Amazon, but claims it reached out to Fakespot before deciding to withdraw the app.

"We are a small 20-person team based in New York City that are supremely passionate about bringing back trust to the Internet and eradicating the problems you've failed so hard at fixing," said Khalifah in an open letter to Amazon's chief executive Jeff Bezos.

"While we are working on solving the problem of disinformation on the Internet, your team is working hard to destroy us."

In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) opened a formal probe into Amazon and Google last month over concerns that they have not been doing enough to combat fake reviews on their sites.

"Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations," commented CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli.

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