Platforms with any scale have the chance to be abused and the Play Store is no exception. Today, Google detailed its efforts to protect users throughout 2017, including removal stats and its latest machine learning techniques.
According to Google, the Play Store has “teams of engineers, policy experts, product managers, and operations professionals who constantly monitor the store and incorporate feedback from the user community to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful apps.”
In 2017, 700,000 Android apps that violated store policies were removed, with Google noting a 70% increase in takedowns compared to the prior year. Google also detailed improvements to earlier identification and detection.
In fact, 99% of apps with abusive contents were identified and rejected before anyone could install them. This was possible through significant improvements in our ability to detect abusive app content and behaviors – such as impersonation, inappropriate content, or malware – through new machine learning models and techniques.
Another problem that Google tackled in 2017 was repeat offenders and “abusive developer networks at scale.” There were 100,000 such bad developers that were removed, with the company taking other steps to prevent the creation of new accounts.
Google also notes specific violations it countered in 2017, including copycat apps that try to impersonate existing ones, Potentially Harmful Applications (malware), and those that include inappropriate content.
The improved machine learning models sift through massive amounts of incoming app submissions and flag them for potential violations, aiding the human reviewers in effectively detecting and enforcing on the problematic apps. Tens of thousands of apps with inappropriate content were taken down last year as a result of such improved detection methods.
Google revealed that malware took a hit with the launch of Google Play Protect. Those PHA installs were reduced “by an order of magnitude compared to 2016.” Meanwhile, a quarter of a million impersonation apps were removed in 2017.