Highly Popular Selfie Camera Android App, among others, found Involved in Massive Ad Fraud!

When BuzzFeed News reported about a number of apps on Play Store being fraudulent, Google took prompt action and removed many of such apps. Interestingly, six of the removed Android apps were developed by DU Group (a Baidu offshoot). In case you are unfamiliar with Baidu, it is a Chinese multinational tech company and still owns 34 percent of DU Group, after the latter branched out last year.

One of the DU-developed apps that were removed, was the vastly popular Selfie Camera app, with more than 50 million downloads on Play Store. Check Point, an Ad fraud researcher, discovered that the app has a malicious code because of which the app automatically clicks on advertisements without users’ consent.

The concerning thing is that the app doesn’t even need to be open in order for the clicks to take place. This can result in unnecessary data consumption and battery drainage. Google’s AdMob and Twitter’s MoPub are the companies whose provided ads are subject to this scam technique.

Other apps that are published by DU Group and were found involved in the ad fraud scandal are RAM Master, Omni Cleaner, Total Cleaner, Smart Cleaner and AIO Flashlight. Moreover, these apps also hid the fact that they were collecting user data and sending back to their servers in China.

The six apps developed by DU Group weren’t all that were found involved in the fraud scheme. Countless other apps were exposed too, by BuzzFeed investigation. This is quite an alarming situation for Google and the Tech Giant needs to address it sooner than later. According to Richard Kramer, Senior Analyst at Arete Research, ad fraud is quite normal in some Asian countries and Google needs to take strict actions to prevent it, even if it affects their sales.

Considering the impact Google has on the app economy, it will be quite disappointing if it doesn’t acknowledge this major problem and do something to get rid of it. Only time will tell how the tech giant proceeds from here.

Popular Android Apps In Google Play Store Are Abusing Permissions Guidelines And Committing Ad Fraud
Photo: SOPA Images / Getty

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