Two companies have had their apps removed from Play Store following "click fraud" allegations
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Cheetah Mobile, which supplies the successful apps Clean Master, Security Master and Battery Doctor, is currently embroiled in a scandal initiated by an investigative report on BuzzFeed News. This article contained allegations that the company used its apps to conduct fraudulent activities on the phones of the users who downloaded them. BuzzFeed also named another app studio, Kika Tech, as a group involved in the same activity.
BuzzFeed based its claims on evidence, including videos captured by the analysts Kochava, that Kika Tech and Cheetah Mobile incorporated code allowing for click fraud in their apps. More specifically, it was alleged that the apps instituted click flooding and click injection while running, enabling them to 'take credit' for new subsequent installs on the affected devices. This may have allowed Cheetah Mobile and Kika Tech to derive additional income from this activity. BuzzFeed asserts that the two companies may have made "millions of dollars" as a result of this form of ad-fraud.
Google took action in response to these findings, ultimately suspending the apps CM File Manager and Kika Keyboard, which are associated with about 250 million downloads, from the Play Store. Cheetah Mobile has also voluntarily withdrawn a small number of others, Battery Doctor included, although it does not confirm that this action has anything to do with BuzzFeed's report. In fact, the company has responded by questioning the quality of Kochava's investigation.
Nevertheless, Google has stated that the 2 companies cannot re-submit their apps for sale unless they satisfy an assessment of their safety and transparency beforehand.
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