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Google has banned a major Chinese app developer from Play Store, after research by BuzzFeed News revealed that the company was guilty of advertising fraud and hid details about the ownership of apps from users.

Google has already begun mass removal of apps from the developer, called DO Global, reports BuzzFeed News. Last weekend at least 46 apps disappeared from the company, which is partly owned by internet giant Baidu. Also, no more advertising stocks are offered for DO Global apps via Google’s AdMob network, suggesting that the ban also applies to the company’s advertising products.

Google did not want to respond specifically to the removal of the apps, but a source of knowledge about the action said the company was banished from DO Global. Also, more apps of the developer need to disappear.

A Google spokesman says that the company is actively investigating malicious behavior. “If we find violations, we take action, including removing the developer’s ability to make money with their app via ADMob, and the ability to publish on Play.”

Advertising fraud

BuzzFeed News reported last week that at least six DO Global apps contain code that allows them to fraudulently click on ads, even if a user is not using the app. The apps were also listed in the Play Store under generic developer names such as “Pic Tools Group” and “Photo Artist Studio”. It was not clear that they were owned by DO Global.

Advertising fraud and concealment of proprietary information is against Play Store policy. Google removed the six apps and said that its internal systems had already marked most of them for removal. Last week, forty more of the developer’s apps disappeared from Play Store, including twenty that use DO Global Games as their name.

Before the apps were removed, DO Global had about a hundred apps on Play Store, which had been downloaded 600 million times. Removing the apps is one of the biggest bans of Play Store, if it is not the biggest ever.

Decision accepted

DO Global says in a statement that it accepts Google’s decision. The company also apologizes for “irregularities” in its apps. “After reading the messages about our apps, we immediately carried out an internal survey. We have found irregularities in some AdMob ads used by our products.”

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.