Nov 14, 2019 | Updated: 02:50 PM EST

Fake reviews for BBM are springing up in Google Play

Oct 24, 2013 11:49 PM EDT

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The rollout of BlackBerry’s BBM app for Android and iOS is quickly turning into one of the biggest train wrecks to ever grace the Google Play and Apple App stores.

After a botched rollout last month, the company was quick to issue a press release yesterday celebrating 10 million BBM downloads on the first day of availability. Many reviews for the app have been less than stellar, however, and new allegations of astroturfing in the Play Store are spreading through the interwebs like wildfire.

A cursory stroll through the app’s reviews in the Google Play Store reveals an improbable volume of 5-star ratings. Even more improbable, the reviews mostly say the exact same thing: “Thank you so much blackberry team. I was waiting this app. Its really great user friendly and smooth.”

Right. If this sounds like a harmless, if not stupid marketing ploy, you might be surprised to find that the tactic of posting fake reviews is thoroughly illegal. In September, New York levied fines totaling $350,000 against 19 companies for this very practice. For its part, BlackBerry has claimed its has no clue what’s going on, or who’s responsible.

“We have been made aware of a number of potentially fake reviews of BBM for Android on Google Play, with ratings anywhere from one to five stars. We have no knowledge of how these reviews were created or populated,” the company said in a statement to The Verge. “We do not approve of or condone such activities. There are also many genuinely great and useful reviews from our new BBM users on Google Play. We would like to encourage our fans and users to continue to provide true assessments of the BBM experience through the proper channels.”

While it’s certainly possible that BlackBerry or one of its partners is paying for positive reviews, blogger Terence Eden, who has taken a comprehensive look at the reviews, suggests it’s more likely the astroturfing is the result of a fake BBM app attempting to score good reviews for itself, but mistakenly scoring them for the official app instead.

Whatever the truth might be, one thing is certain: the future of BBM is far from optimistic.

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