Apple Yanks 1,000-Plus iPhone Apps After Astroturfing Allegation

Apple has removed more than 1,000 of developer Molinker’s apps from the App Store after a blogger raised concerns over the similarity of its mostly-positive reviews. According to the Guardian, many of Molinker’s apps were travel guides; a search of the App Store revealed that the developer is no longer there.

On November 28, blogger Glyn Evans posted on the iPhoneography web site the content of an email that a friend of his sent to Apple executive Phil Schiller. That person was interested in purchasing one of Molinker’s photography apps when they noticed this: “Please investigate for I have just looked at 44 of the reviewers who posted reviews for this Molinker Inc app "NightCam Pro" & EVERY Review except 2 of the 44+ are ALL FAKE 5 ★★★★★ reviews … If you investigate ALL have ONLY reviewed ONLY Molinker apps.

“A little odd that 42 of 44 US reviews are poorly written & that all users have only written reviews for either All Molinker photography apps (giving 5 star reviews to 6-7 Molinker apps ONLY no other apps by any other developer) or the same 2 apps.”

Mr. Evans subsequently confirmed with Mr. Schiller that Apple was investigating the claims, which apparently led to Molinker's apps being removed from the store (assuming the developer didn't flee the App Store). The Guardian noted that this isn’t the first time such an allegation was made: this past summer, MobileCrunch wrote about a PR firm accused of having interns post positive reviews of its clients’ iPhone games. The company, Reverb Communications, denied those claims.