Google has banned a Chinese app developer for violating its advertising policies shortly after booting another from the Play Store.
CooTek, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has found itself on Google’s naughty list and had dozens of its app removed.
The company is most well known in Western countries for its TouchPal keyboard but also had a range of apps spanning various categories. CooTek predominately focused on health-oriented apps such as HiFit, Abs Workout, Breeze (a meditation app), Cherry (a menstrual cycle tracker), Drink Water Reminder, and Blue Light Filter.
First reported by Buzzfeed, an investigation by IT security firm Lookout found CooTek apps used an invasive adware plugin known as BeiTaAd.
BeiTaAd is known for repeatedly spamming users with adverts even when the phone or app is not in use. Lookout Kristina Balaam said the ads could “render the phones nearly unusable.”
CooTek promised to remove BeiTaAd from its apps but a subsequent investigation found that even the so-called updated versions contained separate code enabling the same ads.
“There was not any re-engagement on the ad activity pointed out by Lookout on any of the versions which we updated,” CooTek spokesperson Mina Luo told BuzzFeed. “The findings claimed by Lookout this time are lack of evidence [sic] and the logic is not convincing.”
Google has seemingly agreed CooTek’s apps violate its advertising policies. To protect Android users, Mountain View has decided to ban CooTek from the Play Store.
“Our Google Play developer policies strictly prohibit malicious and deceptive behaviour, as well as disruptive ads,” said a Google spokesperson.
“When violations are found, we take action.”
Google has the history to back up its claim. In April, another Chinese app developer called Do Global was banned for similar use of intrusive advertising. Kika and Cheetah Mobile also felt Google’s wrath last year.
Now is a good time to double-check your advertising practices do not violate Google’s policies, else prepare to face the company’s banhammer.
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