Google removes app that helped eliminate Chinese apps from phones

Google has reportedly pulled an app from the Play Store designed to find and remove Chinese apps from people’s phones. India-based Remove Chinese Apps was suspended for violating Google’s Deceptive Behavior Policy, which, in part, bans apps that “mislead users into removing or disabling third-party apps.” Gadgets 360 earlier reported the news. 

OneTouch AppLabs, the maker of Remove China Apps, tweeted about the suspension from Google Play on Tuesday. A Google representative pointed to the company’s Deceptive Behavior Policy, which doesn’t allow apps that alter a user’s device settings or features outside of the app without their knowledge and consent.

The move comes at a time of growing anti-China sentiment in India and escalating tensions over a Himalayan border dispute, TechCrunch notes. Many Indian celebrities have also recently endorsed deleting Chinese apps including TikTok, the publication says. 

Before it was suspended, Remove Chinese Apps reportedly had more than 5 million downloads since late May. It would scan phones for Chinese apps and give users the option to remove them. Once everything was cleared, a message reading “You are awesome, no China app found,” would appear, Reuters reports.

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The search giant says it’s combating “harmful information.”

Google said on Thursday it had removed three apps related to the QAnon conspiracy theory from its Play Store digital marketplace. 

The apps — called QMAP, Q Alerts! and Q Alerts LITE — were taken down for violating Google’s policies against “harmful information,” the company said. The removal was earlier reported by Media Matters for America, a progressive not-for-profit.

The QAnon conspiracy theory has become popular among a group of supporters of President Donald Trump. One claim is that celebrities are involved in child sex trafficking and pedophilia. Another tenet is that Trump is working to take down the so-called “Deep State,” a secret network that manipulates and controls government policy. The theory revolves around “Q,” an anonymous user who began writing about the conspiracies on imageboard site 4chan. 

“Now more than ever, combating misinformation on the Play Store is a top priority for the team,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “When we find apps that violate Play policy by distributing misleading or harmful information, we remove them from the store.”

Google didn’t answer questions about how many times the apps had been downloaded. The search giant also didn’t say how much money it might have made from the apps, some of which reportedly required a payment to download.

Google isn’t the only tech giant that’s removed QAnon content in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Facebook took down five pages dedicated to the conspiracy theory for violating rules against inauthentic behavior.

The search giant more broadly has been dealing with misinformation on its services. YouTube has been struggling to remove uploads of the Plandemic, a 26-minute viral video that includes conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus.

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