Google delists over 550 apps for featuring disruptive ads

Anne Freier | March 12, 2020

App Business

A total of 564 apps with around 3 billion downloads were delisted from the Google Play Store for featuring disruptive ads.

That’s according to new research from Pixalate which noted that the top 10 most popular apps that were delisted all came from developers linked to Cheetah Mobile. All of these apps had more than 100 million downloads. One app had reached the 500 million mark in downloads.

Other major app developers included Just4Fun with 117 million downloads.

The majority of delisted apps did not have an address or location associated with them. Poland ranked second with 68 of apps being delisted, followed by the UK (46) and China (35).

However, the most popular delisted apps (i.e. those with the majority of downloads) came from China (2 billion downloads), followed by Hong Kong (400 million).

Pixalate said that its team analysed permissions from delisted apps and found that 75% of them included system alert windows, wake lock and read phone state permissions.

Google defines disrupts ads as those that “are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions. While they can occur in-app, one form of disruptive ads we’ve seen on the rise is something we call out-of-context ads, which is when malicious developers serve ads on a mobile device when the user is not actually active in their app.”

Among the categories with the most apps removed was entertainment, followed by personalisation, games and tools.

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