Amid growing scrutiny of the App Store and the prevalence of scam and rip-off applications, Apple has published a new press release today highlighting the measures it takes to protect users. In the press release, Apple claims that the App Store stopped more than $1.5 billion in “potentially fraudulent transactions in 2020.

Apple also says it recently deployed new tools to combat fake reviews on the App Store.

The new press release comes as scrutiny of the App Store has increased over the last several months. The App Store has been at the forefront of the ongoing Apple vs. Epic legal case. Developer Kosta Eleftheriou has also exposed countless scam applications on the App Store.

In the press release, Apple says that a combination “sophisticated technology and human expertise” helped protect customers from $1.5 billion in fraudulent transactions last year.

In 2020 alone, Apple’s combination of sophisticated technology and human expertise protected customers from more than $1.5 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions, preventing the attempted theft of their money, information, and time — and kept nearly a million risky and vulnerable new apps out of their hands.

The press release also includes a handful of statistics about the App Store and the App Review process.

  • In 2020, more than 180,000 developers launched their first app
  • Nearly 1 million problematic new apps, and an additional nearly 1 million app updates, were rejected in 2020
  • More than 48,000 apps were rejected in 2020 for containing hidden or undocumented features
  • 150,000 apps were rejected in 2020 because they were “found to be spam, copycats, or misleading to users in ways such as manipulating them into making a purchase”
  • 95,000 apps were removed from the App Store in 2020 for bait-and-switch maneuvers, such as fundamentally changing how the app works after review
  • Over 215,000 apps were rejected in 2020 for privacy violations
  • Apple terminated over 470,000 developer accounts in 2020 and rejected an additional 205,000 developer enrollments over fraud concerns
  • Apple deactivated 244 million customer accounts due to fraudulent and abusive activity in 2020.
  • 424 million attempted account creations were rejected in 2020 because they displayed patterns consistent with fraudulent and abusive activity
  • In the last 12 months, Apple has “discovered and blocked “nearly 110,000 illegitimate apps on pirate storefronts”
  • In the last month, Apple “blocked more than 3.2 million instances of apps distributed illicitly through the Apple Developer Enterprise Program”
  • In 2020, Apple prevented more than 3 million stolen cards from being used to purchase stolen goods and services and banned nearly 1 million accounts from transacting again

App Store ratings and reviews

At the heart of many of the scam apps exposed by Eleftheriou and others is an intricate system of fake reviews and ratings that make the apps appear legitimate. Apple says that since 2020, it has processed over 1 billion ratings and over 100 million reviews. Over 250 million ratings and reviews were removed for not “meeting moderation standards,” Apple says.

Going forward, Apple says that it “recently deployed” new tools to verify rating and review account authenticity. While further details here are unclear, the company has also says that the tools will help to “analyze written reviews for signs of fraud, and to ensure that content from deactivated accounts is removed.”

The full quote from Apple:

App Store ratings and reviews help many users make decisions about which apps to download, and developers rely on them to incorporate new features that respond to user feedback. Apple relies on a sophisticated system that combines machine learning, artificial intelligence, and human review by expert teams to moderate these ratings and reviews to help ensure accuracy and maintain trust. Since 2020, Apple has processed over 1 billion ratings and over 100 million reviews, and over 250 million ratings and reviews were removed for not meeting moderation standards.

Apple also recently deployed new tools to verify rating and review account authenticity, to analyze written reviews for signs of fraud, and to ensure that content from deactivated accounts is removed. 

Whether or not these changes help to curb the number of scam and rip-off apps on the App Store remains to be seen, but this press release from Apple is a clear response to concerns in the community. You can read the full press release on the Apple Newsroom website right here.

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