Google to ban Chinese app developer DO Global for advertisement fraud

MANILA, Philippines – Google banned apps from DO Global from its Android platform following a report that the developer engaged in advertisement fraud and abused user permissions.

An April 17 Buzzfeed News report said DO Global, a major Chinese Android app developer partly owned by Baidu, had at least 6 apps which fraudulently clicked on advertisements to generate revenue even when they weren't being used.

Security and ad fraud researchers from Check Point Research and Method Media Intelligence also found code in some of the apps, which "could be used to engage in a different form of ad fraud."

At least 46 apps from the developer have now been taken down, based on a follow-up Buzzfeed News report on Saturday, April 27. The report said 20 of those apps were under the DO Global Games developer name, while 14 fell under the Applecheer Studio name. Because those apps had different addresses and contact information listed on the store, it made it difficult to tell they were actually from the same developer.

Prior to the takedown of the apps, DO Global had around 100 applications, with about 600 million installs across the developed apps.

Buzzfeed cited a source with knowledge of the action done by Google who said the company was likely to ban DO Global overall, which implied more apps would be taken down.

In a statement on April 27, DO Global said it conducted an internal investigation and regrets finding "irregularities in some of our products’ use of AdMob advertisements." The company accepted Google's decision to take down the apps, and added it was actively cooperating with them by thoroughly examining every app involved. –

Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.