In an unexpected scan of the App Store, Apple removed more than 20 million comments from the most popular apps, including apps developed by well-known brands such as Google, Microsoft, Starbucks, Hulu, Nike and smaller developers. The issue began on 23 October 2019 and was not resolved until 29 October. Apple said deleting user comments was triggered by an error.
Appfigures, the mobile app insights platform, found that more than 300 apps from more than 200 developers were affected by the scan, which removed a total of 22 million app reviews from the App Store, affecting countries including the United States. The average number of comments for the app dropped by 50%. But the U.S. has been hit hardest, with about 10 million comments gone, a sweep that is global and hits all 155 countries in Apple’s App Store. In the Apple App Store in China, the UK, South Korea, Russia and Australia, the number of app reviews has also been significantly affected.
Some apps have been hit harder than others. Hulu, for example, lost up to 95 percent of its reviews in the U.S., while Dropbox and Chase lost 85 percent of their reviews. Developers speculate that Apple may be trying to clean up fake app reviews. However, this theory seems unlikely, as Appfigures finds that both positive and negative comments have been deleted. If the scan focuses on cracking down on fake comments, only positive fake comments will be deleted. Apple was contacted for comment, and Apple explained that the issue was a mistake and that the deleted comments were not permanently deleted and have now been restored.