Since last October, we've been calling out affiliate websites as Deceptors when we observed them making unsubstantiated claims, or when they auto-downloaded apps without presenting the consumer a valid offer.
This has led to good changes on many affiliate sites. Consumers don't have to read untrue statements, and they now get a chance to accept an app before it shows up on their machine.
But although these changes have been helpful, we still observe the following unwanted behaviors on affiliate sites:
- Vague and non-specific claims that have the intent to deceive consumers. An example of these kinds of generic claims are found on "how to remove" affiliate sites that offer malware and spyware removal tools. We think that sites making generic claims know they are scaring consumers into downloading the offered apps.
- Download sites that purposely allow confusing "start" and "download" ads and offers to surround the actual download button. We think these ads and offers are masquerading as the button the consumer wants to click, and the download site knows they are tricking the consumer into getting an unwanted download.
- Download sites that offer an app, but when the consumer accepts the offer, they get a "download manager" that first makes more offers to them. We think the consumer must only get the app that they accepted; if the download site wants the consumer to run their download manager, they must offer it to the consumer, and the consumer must accept that offer, before it's downloaded.
When we find a deceptive affiliate or download site, we'll consider both the site and the affiliated apps as Deceptors. We spent the past two months aligning this policy change with our security partners, and we're looking forward to implementing them later this month.