Google has begun the mass removal of apps from a major Chinese Android developer following a BuzzFeed News investigation that revealed it was committing ad fraud and concealing app ownership details from users.
As of today, 46 apps from DO Global, which is partly owned by internet giant Baidu, are gone from the Play store. BuzzFeed News also found that DO Global apps no longer offer ad inventory for purchase via Google’s AdMob network, suggesting the ban has also been extended to the internet giant’s ad products.
Google would not comment specifically on the removals, but a source with knowledge of the action said the company was moving to ban DO Global overall, and that more app removals would follow.
“We actively investigate malicious behavior, and when we find violations, we take action, including the removal of a developer’s ability to monetize their app with AdMob or publish on Play,” a Google spokesperson said.
Prior to the app removals, DO Global had roughly 100 apps in the
Play store with over 600 million installs. Their removal from the Play store marks one of, if not the, biggest bans Google has ever instituted against an app developer. DO Global was a subsidiary of Baidu until it was spun out last summer; Baidu retains a 34% stake.
DO did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Google’s action, and has not commented on the revelation that its apps were committing ad fraud. It claims to have more than 250 million monthly active users for its apps, and to reach 800 million users through its ad platform.
Google removed those six apps, and claimed its internal systems had also flagged most of them for removal. Another 40 DO apps disappeared from the Play store this week, including 20 using the Do Global Games developer name, and 14 listed under Applecheer Studio. The apps listed different addresses and contact information in the store, making it difficult for the average user to see they were all owned by the same major developer.