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Alibaba’s UC Browser disappears from Google Play Store allegedly due to malicious promotions, company responds

A Twitter user who claims to be a UC Browser employee has acknowledged misleading campaigns being the reason.

  • Updated: November 15, 2017 5:19 PM IST
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One of the most popular web browsers in India, UC Browser, which has over 500 million downloads, suddenly stands disappeared from the Google Play Store. And the reason reportedly is misleading campaigns that the UC Browser has been alleged to be running. To put in perspective how big UC Browser is in India – it has a larger user base than Google Chrome in the country.

UPDATE: BGR India reached out to UC Browser to find out more details, to which they have now responded saying, “We were informed by Google Play about temporary removal of UC Browser from the Play Store for 7 days, beginning 13 Nov 2017, under the reason that a certain setting of UC Browser is not in line with Google’s policy. We have conducted an urgent internal investigation and fixed the problem. The new version has been uploaded on Google Play’s Developer Console and is awaiting evaluation. We will actively cooperate with Google Play for any concern caused by this unintentional error.”

“In the meantime, users can still download UC Browser Mini from the Play Store, an alternative version of UC Browser. We thank Google Play for their understanding and support extended to us. UC Browser new product package will be back on Google Play next week and, in the interim, users and partners can download the product from our website.”

However, to know what we mean, if you go to Google Play store right now, and search for UC Browser, you will see only the Mini version of the browser in search results, with UC Browser nowhere to be found.

This, according to Android Police’s Artem Russakovskii, was caused due to UC Browser using ‘Malicious Promotion’ methods. Russakovskii shared this information attributing it to an email from the UC Union, which is the company’s network affiliate.

In line with this report, Android Central too shared the content of an email, which points the reason of “take down” to be “malicious redirect ads served up by UC Web’s affiliates to inflate installs.” The entire email has been shared on Reddit. (Or you can read the mail below at the end of the story.) ALSO READ: This fake WhatsApp app already has over a million downloads

Affirming for the same reason is a tweet by a UC Browser employee Mike Ross, who explains that the app was taken down for a similar reason.

Google has lately been very strict about apps using dubious tricks to increase install base, or any app that is trying to trick a user in other ways. Just earlier this week, Google warned app developers not to use its Accessibility Services — designed for users with disabilities — for other purposes that may create security issues, adding that it will remove such apps from its Play Store. Apps like LastPass, Universal Copy, Clipboard Actions, Cerberus, Tasker and Network Monitor Mini use Accessibility Services. ALSO READ: India, Southeast Asia lead global app downloads in Q3 2017: App Annie

Dear Partner, We hereby emphasis again that UC Union prohibits any and all misleading/malicious advertising method(s) to procure new users when promoting UC Browser campaigns, such as by using slogan inconsistent with the Product functions, or by using inductive slogan.

DO NOT use the Malicious Promotion method(s) or STOP such behavior immediately if you are acting so.

Upon discovery a Malicious Promotion, UC Union is entitled to

(i) STOP your payment settlement, or DEDUCT your corresponding payment made to you;

(ii) compensation in recovery of the loss suffered by UC Union, including but not limited to loss of UC Union’s good will, loss of users of UC Union Product(s), removal of UC Union Product(s) from Google Play or Apple Store, and any other loss as a result of your Malicious Promotion;

(iii) require you to CLARIFY the facts for elimination of the negative impact shed upon UC Union; and (iv) resort to any other legal measures if necessary.

UC Union is looking forward to cooperating and developing with you in a healthy UC Union ecosphere.

  • Published Date: November 15, 2017 1:55 PM IST
  • Updated Date: November 15, 2017 5:19 PM IST