One of the security hounds discussing the case on Reddit pointed out that this was not an isolated incident, even for WhatsApp. A search for “WhatsApp” on Google Play currently shows no fewer than seven spoof apps using slight variations on the developer name “WhatsApp Inc.”, including versions with extra spaces, asterisks, or commas. All of them have four-star review averages, presumably thanks to industrial-scale subversion of Play’s review system.
This is the latest in a long string of incidents in which Google has shown little seriousness in attempting to protect Google Play users. In prior incidents, security experts or unlucky users have encountered malware in compromised messaging apps, in a line of popular children’s games, and even in fake versions of Pokemon Go.
In this case, Google’s failure to protect WhatsApp’s intellectual property has a further dimension – WhatsApp is owned by Google’s primary competitor for online advertising revenue, Facebook.
After attracting unwanted attention, the rogue developer apparently changed the infringing name on their own.
The original article was published in Fortune.com.
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