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Surprise: Study shows app stores are full of fake reviews

Exploring your favorite app store can be fun, but you can’t trust everything you see online. There are tons of malicious apps with fake reviews on official app stores. It’s not just Google Play, either. A recent report has shown that you can find phony reviews everywhere. Who can you trust?

Read on for some facts that may shock you.

What makes app reviews suspicious?

Consumer group Which? recently unveiled a surprising analysis of almost 1 million app reviews. It critically assesses the success rate of the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store in their mission to weed out fraudulent user endorsements.

They didn’t just look into no-name brands, developers or publishers either. In Google Play’s top 100 health and fitness apps, at least 25% of reviews appeared to be bogus.

Apple’s App Store fared slightly better, but not by much. Nearly 17% of its health and fitness app reviews raised red flags.

Among these red flags include the following factors you should always be looking out for:

  • Too many perfect five-star reviews.
  • Clusters of great reviews are delivered within hours or days of one another.
  • Extremely short reviews that add little to the conversation.

Scammers and other unsavory types may use fake app reviews to bolster the reputation of the clones and rebuilds they’re trying to sell you. It’s not just apps, either. Fakespot found in 2020 that as many as 42% of Amazon reviews turned out to be phony after a site-wide review.

These reviews may be posted by fake review brokers that hire ordinary people to leave reviews for cash or free stuff. Other organizations or publishers may keep the job internal, utilizing SEO or aggressive tactics to elevate their apps above other, more reputable choices.

It pays to keep your eyes wide open. If you’re not downloading something well-known, we recommend checking the web for reviews outside the app store on other sites you trust.

How to tell if app store reviews are fake

A valuable review can save you a lot of time and money when trying to select the best product and service, and their a few pro tips for picking out the spam. Watch for these signs that a review could be fake:


Many fake reviews are written by people who don’t speak English as a first language or by those not paying close attention. Grammar and spelling mistakes are red flags. If they don’t have time to spellcheck, they don’t care that much about their review.


Have you ever come across a bunch of reviews that look similar? That’s a sign of fake reviews. It’s easy enough to make a fake profile and repeat the same response multiple times to get as many good reviews as possible. If you see duplicate reviews for an app, it’s probably fake.

Short responses

When you have a fantastic experience, you have much to say. A negative experience typically induces an even longer review. Those posting falsehoods typically leave a five-star review with minimal details. They are vague and lacking detail, which could signal that the reviewer unlikely used the app or product at all.

You should always use caution when counting on reviews to make purchasing decisions. Don’t let a bogus review convince you to download a malicious app.

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