It seems that Google is on a cleaning spree right now and the latest one to fall prey is the Google Play Store. For that, Google has recently introduced anti-spam system that detects fake reviews and ratings. This system would also help Google to clean up bad apps, and delete fake reviews and rating posted through unethical practices. The tech giant thus uses its new machine learning anti-spam system to assess which review is genuine, and which is fake or profane in nature. Google notes, that the system was able to spot millions of fake reviews, inevitably leading to removal of thousands of bad apps from the Play Store.
Unethical practices like incentived ratings often lead to bloated average app ratings as well. Developers run campaigns where they offer users the money or certain valuable in-app purchases in return for good ratings and reviews. This leads to false praise just for that incentive, and it isn’t necessarily the true opinion of the user. Google added that this system is able to recognize such an event as well, and take appropriate action. As mentioned, the system will also recognize reviews that use profane language, are off-topic, or spread hate. It would also recognize suspicious sudden increase or decrease in average ratings of apps.
Google however notes that it doesn’t solely rely on machine learning to take action against developers, apps, ratings, and reviews. In its developers’ blog, Google mentions, “In 2018, the Google Play Trust & Safety teams deployed a system that combines human intelligence with machine learning to detect and enforce policy violations in ratings and reviews. A team of engineers and analysts closely monitor and study suspicious activities in Play’s ratings and reviews, and improve the model’s precision and recall on a regular basis. We also regularly ask skilled reviewers to check the decisions made by our models for quality assurance.”
The search giant thus urges developers to not buy incentivised ratings or fake them in any way. In addition, it asks them to not run campaigns that offer in-app purchases in return for 5-star rating or a good review. Furthermore, it urges users to not accept app incentives in exchange for reviews and ratings, or use profane, hateful, or sexual language in reviews. While the tech giant would continue to fish for spam reviews and apps, the company also requests users and developers to keep a lookout, and report such reviews as soon as they spot it. Users can in fact mark the review as spam and developers can submit feedback through the Play Console.